H&R Block Reports Loss as Costs Widen


U.S. tax preparer H&R Block Inc ((NYSE:HRB) reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss as higher costs outweighed a sharp rise in revenue, sending its shares down nearly 5 percent in extended trading.

The company also said it was not likely to close the sale of its banking unit to Republic Bancorp Inc before the end of this month as it was yet to get the necessary regulatory approvals for the transaction.

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H&R Block sold its banking assets in July to avoid a sharp rise in costs associated with the introduction of stricter banking rules by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The company had sought regulators' permission to buy back shares but had not received the approval to do so, Chief Executive Bill Cobb said on a conference call on Tuesday.

The company's net loss from continuing operations widened to $113.2 million, or 42 cents per share, in the first quarter from $107.4 million, or 39 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company reported a loss of 40 cents per share, missing analysts' estimates by 3 cents.

The company typically reports an operating loss in the May-July quarter, which follows the peak U.S. tax filing season.

Revenue, however, rose 32 percent to $127.2 million, driven by its international business. Analysts were expecting $98.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the Kansas City, Missouri-based company, which has a market value of more than $7 billion, closed at $27.88 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.