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Intuit says fiscal 2000 on track

Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) said Thursday it was on track to meet its fiscal 2000 revenue and operating income goals. Intuit also said it expects fiscal 2001 pro forma revenue and operating income to grow by more than 20 percent.

The company also said Internet revenue would more than double from fiscal 1999 to represent 25 percent of sales in 2000.

Intuit's guidance was part of the company's coming-out party for new CEO Steve Bennett, who recently addressed Wall Street at its annual investment conference.

Bennett's first mission was to ease Wall Street concerns about sales growth. Last month, Intuit reported a lackluster second quarter. The company hit estimates with earnings of 44 cents a share, but indicated sales growth slowed.

Second quarter revenue rose to $425.5 million, a 14 percent gain year-over-year, a nice pop, but well below last year's growth of 46 percent. The company cited higher marketing costs and price cuts for Quicken TurboTax; tax bundling programs that forced Intuit to defer recognition of $25 million to $30 million of revenue related to electronic filing; closing of certain branch offices, and thus lowering mortgage revenue, of the recently acquired Rock Financial.

Aside from those problems, Intuit is operating in a tough interest rate environment and competing with companies such as Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), e-Loan (Nasdaq: EELN) and Insweb (Nasdaq: INSW) among others.

Bennett, in a statement, said Intuit is ready for battle. "Intuit is in the best position ever to capitalize on its e-finance strategy,'' said Bennett, who added that every division is doing well in terms of volume, market share and profits.

Bennett said the company would strengthen its existing portfolio of businesses, add new services, integrate platforms, and become more efficient.

On other topics, Intuit said it had three million registered users of QuickBooks, the company's flagship financial software for small businesses, and recently announced an Internet gateway with partners such as e-Stamp (Nasdaq: ESTM). The company also said electronic tax filing will increase 125 percent from last year.

In a separate release, Intuit announced eight alliances for its QuickBooks Site Builder site. Intuit said it partnered with Critical Path (Nasdaq: CPTH), Internet Names Worldwide, iQ.Com, MadeToOrder.com, Photos to Go, Switchboard (Nasdaq: SWBD), Superfast Label Service and Web Site Pros. >