Brad SmithWith 93,000 units of professional tax software sold in the second quarter ended January 31, Intuit continues to have by far the largest share of the market. But the number of units continues to slip as the most recent total is down from 95,000 in last year's corresponding quarter and off from 97,000 in the same quarter in fiscal 2009. The company's peak came in the second quarter of fiscal 2007 when Intuit sold 102,000 units. Meanwhile, Intuit regained retail market share and reported gains in online consumer tax sales for the period.

Intuit said revenue from its Accounting Professionals segment, which includes the sale of Lacerte and Pro Series professional tax products, was off 2 percent from a year earlier. That revenue was $124 million, down from $122 million in last year's corresponding period. The company does not break out revenue for the two professional tax products. CEO Brad Smith did not address the segment. However, during the company's annual meeting, in noting that Intuit likes to keep a 10 percent lead over competitors in terms of market share. Smith said that was not true in professional tax attributed that to a good job by a competitor, which he did not name.

For the quarter, the company reported $73 million in net income from continuing operations, down from $80 million a year earlier. Last year's bottom line included $34 million from discontinued operations. Revenue of $878 million, was up from $837 million for the compared quarters. The bottom line decrease resulted from increased operating expenses. Intuit spent $330 million on sales and marketing,  rise of 19.1 percent from $277 million a year ago. Spending on research and development hit $158 million, an increase of 9.7 percent from $144 million in last year's corresponding period.

Meanwhile, the number of desktop QuickBook units sold continued to drop as subscriptions to QuickBooks Online increased sharply. Intuit sold 404,000 units, down from 431,000 a year earlier and 529,000 units two years ago. However, there were 241,000 subscriptions for QB Online sold in the quarter, up from 159,000 in the corresponding quarter of fiscal 2010 and 139,000 in the same quarter of fiscal 2009.  In a previous earnings call, Smith said the QB Online business is coming from new users, not from the installed desktop user base.

Smith said despite the delays in filing would not lower the 140 million returns Intuit expects to be filed during this tax season. He also said filings have accelerated since February 1 with TurboTax desktop units are up 1 percent through February 12, over a year earlier. But for February 1 through 12 the number of desktop units are up 11 percent while sales of online Turbtax units are up 16 percent.
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
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