* Q2 loss $0.38/shr vs est loss $0.40/sh
* Says sees closing 400 offices in 2010
* Sees low single-digit revenue growth in 2010
* Sees IRS filings down 2 pct this year * Stock falls as much as 3 pct
Dec 8 - H&R Block Inc , the largest U.S. tax preparer, posted a narrower-than-expected second-quarter loss, aided mainly by better results in Tax Services segment, but said it is looking to close 400 regular offices this year as part of a cost-cutting plan.
The company expects a low single-digit revenue growth in 2010, but estimates margin improvement of about 100 basis points over the next two fiscal years, a company executive said at an investor conference.
The company said it sees Internal Revenue Service filings down about 2 percent for the year and expects a continued shift to the do-it-yourself model from the assisted preparation model.
The company said as part of its network optimization, it would close another 1,200 locations at its Wal-Mart Stores Inc and other alternative channels.
Earlier this year, H&R Block's main rival Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc said it would be the exclusive provider of tax preparation services in stores operated by Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer.
The company posted a quarterly loss of $128.6 million, or 38 cents a share, compared with a loss of $135.9 million, or 41 cents a share, a year back.
Revenue from continuing operations fell 7 percent to $326.1 million for the period.
Analysts were looking for a loss of 40 cents a share, on revenue of $347 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue from tax services rose 4 percent to $109.3 million.
For fiscal 2010, the company backed its view on earnings from continuing operations of $1.60 to $1.80 per share.
H&R Block provides tax return preparation services in person, and online through its TaxCut software. It often loses money in its fiscal first and second quarters, which fall outside the main U.S. tax filing season.
TaxCut competes with bigger tax software rival Intuit Inc's TurboTax, which held 79 percent of the retail unit market share for personal computer software in last year's tax season.
H&R Block chairman Richard Breeden, who once chaired the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, has refocused the company on tax preparation after taking charge in 2007, shedding a money-losing subprime mortgage unit and a securities brokerage and reducing mortgage exposure at its H&R Block Bank unit.
The company has managed to reduce long-term debt by $700 million to $1 billion through Oct. 31. It had $1.4 billion cash in hand at the end of second quarter.
Rival Jackson Hewitt, which is struggling to get the company back on track though competitive pricing and the retail deal with Wal-Mart, is expected to report quarterly results on Wednesday.
Shares of the Kansas City, Missouri-based company were down about 2 percent at $20.00 in afternoon trade Tuesday on the Newrk Stock Exchange. They have gained close to 50 percent in value through Monday since hitting a 52-week low of $13.73 in May. (Reporting by Anurag Kotoky and Jochelle Mendonca in Bangalore; Editing by Ratul Ray Chaudhuri and Gopakumar Warrier)