Shares of Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) touched a new life-time high of $56.27 on Wednesday. The company said it will commit to investing $37 million in products and services to promote high-growth entrepreneurship across the country in partnership with President Barack Obama’s Startup America campaign.
The Mountain View, California-headquartered Intuit said its commitments include special offers and pricing over a three year period for the company’s flagship products and services, including QuickBooks Online, Intuit Payroll Services, QuickBooks Merchant Services and Intuit Websites, which will become available to Startup America Partnership member companies.
Intuit will also look to add other offerings and tap into the expertise of its ecosystem of accounting professionals and banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.
The effort, called the Startup America Partnership, is led by AOL Inc. (NYSE: AOL) co-founder Steve Case as chairman. It is intended to promote private-sector investments in startup companies and small businesses as a way to improve the economy.
"Entrepreneurs and small businesses play a major role in the economic recovery. We are pleased that supporting and celebrating entrepreneurs is a major priority for President Obama’s economic strategy, and are happy to contribute to this partnership. With millions of small business owners trusting us to help run their businesses, it’s our responsibility to play an active role in this collective effort to spark new job growth," said Kiran Patel, executive vice president and general manager at Intuit.
Meanwhile, the IRS reported that by early morning on April 18 it had received 101 million e-File returns (both self-prep and professional), a substantial 8.8 percent year-over-year increase compared to 6.8 percent reported as of March 25.
"Given the surge in e-file growth and our recent channel checks, we estimate Intuit to deliver around 10 percent Federal tax unit volume growth (up from 7 percent year-over-year in its March tax update) and 13 percent to 14 percent revenue growth for its Consumer Tax business, which would be at the high end or slightly above its 10 percent to 13 percent guidance," said B. Keane, an analyst at Credit Suisse.
Keane would expect revenue growth to outpace unit growth, driven by product mix and the conversion of previous free users to paid. Due to the tax season recovery, Keane raised his price target on shares of Intuit to $51 from $43, while maintaining his "neutral" rating.
Keane believes that the self-prep industry is on pace to grow an estimated 11 percet year-over-year versus 8 percent growth last year. In his view, the key driver to self-prep growth is the drop in paper returns.
Paper filings declined over 30 percent year-over-year as of April 18 compared to down 14.6 percent as of March 23. Keane believes that paper filings have significantly declined due to the IRS's decision to cease mailing paper tax forms, aggressive marketing of online free filing by Intuit and H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) and HRB's free filing offer in retail locations.
"Our channel check suggests that TaxAct has lost significant share, Intuit's share remains slightly down, and HRB has gained substantial share due to its aggressive online marketing campaign and free promotions," said Keane.
Intuit reported tax unit growth of 6.9 percent year-over-year as of March 15, lower than the IRS's 8.9 percent reported self-prep digital category growth through March 18 and much lower than HRB's reported 13.3 percent digital growth through March 31. Keane said Intuit recovered nicely in tax this season due to the surge in self-prep and now all eyes will turn towards small business.
Intuit stock gapped open sharply higher April 20 at $55.15 compared to previous day's close of $54.46. The stock touched a new all-time high of $56.27 on Wednesday.
The stock closed Wednesday's regular trading up 2.96 percent at $56.07 on the NASDAQ Stock Market with a volume of 2.82 million shares. The stock traded between $33.24 and $56.27 during the past 52 weeks.