H&R Block Shares Plunge 18% As Unemployment Hits Tax Prep Business

Shares of tax preparer H&R Block (HRB) fell yesterday as it weathered weak Q4 earnings and a downgrade from Oppenheimer.

Fast forward to today and H&R Block is really getting creamed. Shares are down 18% or $3.50 to $16.23 a share.

Bloomberg: Same-office tax returns prepared in retail operations fell 5.6 per cent through Feb. 15 compared with the same period a year earlier, the Kansas City, Missouri-based company said today in a statement. Total tax returns prepared declined 6.3 per cent.

“We believe industry filings are down significantly due to the recession and sustained, high levels of unemployment,” Chief Executive Officer Russ Smyth said in the statement. “The weak economic conditions have also contributed to a greater shift to do-it-yourself tax preparation methods.”

Welcome to the TurboTax generation, folks.

HRB Feb24

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