H&R Block Profits Up on Strong Mortgage Business

H&R Block Inc. (HRB), the No. 1 U.S. tax preparer, Wednesday said its quarterly earnings multiplied, as its mortgage business boosted results and income from tax advice was steady.

The Kansas City, Missouri-based firm said earnings were $29.6 million, or 16 cents per share, in the third fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31. That compared with $4.5 million, or 2 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

Five analysts polled by market research firm Thomson Financial/First Call estimated the company would earn between 6 cents and 10 cent per share, with a mean of 9 cent per share.

The United States Federal Reserves' 11 interest rate cuts last year boosted profits at H&R Block's mortgage business. The firm, which prepares one out of every seven U.S. tax filings, is in the midst of transforming itself into a diversified financial services company. Apart from mortgages and tax preparation, H&R Block's products include investment advice and brokerage services.

H&R Block's shares closed up 19 cents at $50.25 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, close to their 52-week high of $51.41.