H&R Block 4Q profit rises, but misses Street view

H&R Block points to tough tax season as 4th-qtr results fall short of Wall Street forecast

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- H&R Block Inc. said last-minute changes to tax laws, a delayed start to the filing season and new fraud controls created hurdles for the company in this year's tax season.

The tax preparation company was able to cut costs to help offset weaker revenue stemming from these conditions, but it reported fiscal fourth-quarter results that fell short of market expectations.

H&R said after the market closed Wednesday that it earned $664.3 million, or $2.42 per share, for the quarter that ended April 30. That's up from $586.1 million, or $1.99 per share, last year. It earned $2.54 per share, excluding one-time items.

Total revenue increased to $2.2 billion from $2 billion.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of $2.61 per share, on revenue $2.28 billion, according to FactSet.

The company decided this year to increase its push for assisted and digital do-it-yourself categories as part of a long-term growth strategy. H&R faces increased competition from online and software competitors such as Intuit's TurboTax.

H&R said the total number of U.S. returns it prepared fell 0.7 percent to 22.2 million through the end of the fiscal year.

The company earned $433.9 million, or $1.58 per share, for the full fiscal year versus $265.9 million, or 89 cents per share, last year. It earned $1.59 per share on an adjusted basis. Revenue increased to $2.91 billion from $2.89 billion.

Shares of the Kansas City, Mo.-based rose 17 cents in after-hours trading to $29. The stock was down about 2 percent at the end of regular trading.