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John Clendening, Blucora Blucora, which owns H.D. Vest and TaxAct, reported a $65.2 million loss for the year ended December 31, up from a loss of $38.9 million in 2015. But that loss reflected the company's transformation in selling off its Infospace and Monoprice businesses and a full year of its ownership of H.D. Vest.

The 2016 loss included a $63.1 million from discontinued operations, while the 2015 results had $27.3 million in that category. Revenue for the most recently ended year was $455.9 million, up sharply from $117.7 million pro forma for 2015 with the revenue surge reflecting H.D. Vest's operation.

Despite the losses, Blucora made progress with operating profit of $37.1 million last year, compared to an operating loss of $4.8 million the prior year.

In its earnings webcast, the company said advisor recruitment for Vest is a long-term priority and it recruited about 400 new advisors last year. Blucora stresses it recruits tax professionals and trained them to provide financial planning services.

Both the Vest and TaxAct operations had a good year in terms of operating profit. However, TaxAct's revenue of $316.5 million was down 1 percent from $319.7 million the prior year. Operating income hit $66.9 million, up 17 percent from $57 million.

Vest produced $455.9 million for 2016, up 4 percent from $437.4 million the prior year. It had operating income of $46.3 million, a rise of 8 percent from $43 million in 2015.

CEO John Clendening said Blucora wants to keep TaxAct out of the wars to provide services at no cost to filers.

"But we're also focused on a segment of the market that's interested in high-value services, interested in quality, and are wholly disinterested in getting sucked into a process only to find out as they finished that they've turned what they thought was going to be a zero dollar cost into something that's $50, $60, $80, over $100," he said. He also noted, "we've got to be growing the right type of paid filers, process not tricking people into paying for something that they don't need."

CFO Eric Emans spelled out the plan to balance volume growth with average unit price increases. As prices increase, Emans said the company wants to "shift more towards value-added services, as well as people finding more value in our products."

Bob Scott
Bob Scott has provided information to the tax and accounting community since 1991, first as technology editor of Accounting Today, and from 1997 through 2009 as editor of its sister publication, Accounting Technology. He is known throughout the industry for his depth of knowledge and for his high journalistic standards.  Scott has made frequent appearances as a speaker, moderator and panelist and events serving tax and accounting professionals. He  has a strong background in computer journalism as an editor with two former trade publications, Computer+Software News and MIS Week and spent several years with weekly and daily newspapers in Morris County New Jersey prior to that.  A graduate of Indiana University with a degree in journalism, Bob is a native of Madison, Ind
Last modified on Friday, 17 February 2017
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