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Intuit pops 14 percent on earnings win

Intuit (Nasdaq: INTU) raced out of the gates Wednesday morning, gaining 14 percent after the company beat estimates in its fourth quarter, and predicted stronger growth ahead. The company also announced a deal with Stamps.com (Nasdaq: STMP) and was upgraded.

Shares in the vendor of personal finance software were up 6 5/16 to 52 3/8.

After market close Tuesday, reported a fiscal fourth quarter loss of $8.2 million, or 4 cents per share, excluding special charges and one-time events. First Call's survey of 17 analysts predicted a loss of 9 cents per share for the quarter ended July 31.

Robertson Stephens analyst Scott W. Appleby saw the news as reason to up the company's fiscal 2001 earnings estimates from 71 cents a share to 82 cents a share. Appleby, who has a "buy" rating and a 12-month price target of $65 on the stock, said the company's earnings were well ahead of Robertson Stephens' expectations of 8 cents a share.

"The difference was due to higher-than- projected interest income of $18.5 million versus our $15 million estimate," said Appleby in a report. "Concurrent with the announced quarterly results, management indicated that they are raising performance targets across the board. Given the strength in the quarter and the more optimistic outlook from management, we are raising our estimate(s)."

Morgan Stanley reiterated its "outperform" rating on the stock.

Wednesday, the company said Stamps.com's Internet shipping services will be integrated into the 2001 versions of Quicken Basic, Quicken Deluxe, and Quicken Home & Business.

Stamps.com shares were up 13/16 to $4 3/8, or 22 percent on the news. Intuit customers will have discounts on Stamps.com's services, including tools for pricing, tracking and shipping packages and ordering supplies online.