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H&R Block shares leap after earnings beat, market share gains

Lauren Thomas

Shares of tax preparation company H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) gained more than 14 percent Wednesday, after the company reported a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss.

Amid an overall decline in tax return volume, the firm also said it captured greater market share in two key business segments for this tax season up to Feb. 24.

H&R Block said its assisted tax return volume fell 8 percent, versus the overall 13 percent decline reported by the Internal Revenue Service. In the DIY category, H&R Block said its return volume fell 5 percent versus the 8 percent drop reported by the IRS.

H&R Block 12-month performance

Source: FactSet

For the fiscal third quarter ended Jan. 31, the Kansas City-based company reported a loss of 49 cents per share, compared to a Thomson Reuters estimate of a 53-cent loss. The firm posted quarterly revenue of $451.9 million, also topping a Reuters consensus estimate of $427.5 million.

H&R Block said in a release that its $23 million decline in revenue from the same quarter a year earlier could be contributed to the "delayed tax season." The IRS began accepting 2016 tax returns on Jan. 23, and this year's deadline falls later than it typically does on April 18, rather than April 15, because it conflicts with the weekend.

The nation's largest tax preparation company typically posts losses in its first three fiscal quarters, with profits generated by tax season during the fourth quarter.

During the third quarter, H&R Block said it repurchased approximately 4.4 million shares for an aggregate purchase price of $100 million, according to its earnings release. As a result, this quarter's results were calculated with 10 percent fewer shares, compared to the same period one year ago.

With Wednesday's gains, shares of H&R Block are up nearly 4 percent for the year but are down 14 percent over the past 12 months.

— CNBC's Peter Schacknow contributed to this report.