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Intuit raises forecast on demand for DIY tax filing

(Reuters) - Intuit Inc raised its third-quarter earnings forecast due to strong demand for its online tax-preparation software, TurboTax, in the U.S. tax-filing season.

Intuit's shares rose 3 percent in extended trading after the company's second-quarter revenue fell less than expected despite a delayed start to the tax-filing season.

The Mountain View, California-based company said sales of its of its flagship TurboTax application grew 7 percent to 14 million units in the season through February 15, led by a 11 percent growth of TurboTax Online.

"The DIY (do-it-yourself) category is off to a strong start in the early part of the season," said Sasan Goodarzi, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit's consumer tax group.

Earlier this month, Intuit cut its estimate for the second quarter ended January 31 after the U.S. Internal Revenue Service delayed by 10 days to January 31 the date on which Americans could begin filing their 2013 tax returns.

Intuit, which competes with shop-front tax preparer H&R Block Inc, had also said it expected about $120 million of revenue to shift to the third quarter, of which $80 million was related to the delayed tax filings.

That helped the company to raise its current quarter forecast and maintain its full-fiscal forecast.

Intuit on Thursday forecast third-quarter earnings of $3.46-$3.51 per share on revenue of $2.33-$2.40 billion.

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $3.49 per share on revenue of $2.37 billion, according to Thomson Reuters

I/B/E/S.

The company gets most of its profit in its second and third quarters when Americans are more likely to buy its software in the lead-up to the tax season. Its first and fourth quarters are seasonally weak as it is the tax filing off-season.

The company reported a net loss of $37 million, or 13 cents per share, in the second quarter, compared to a net income of $71 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding exceptional items, the company earned 2 cents per share, in line with analysts' average estimate.

Revenue fell 12 percent to $782 million. Analysts were expecting revenue of $778.9 million.

Intuit's shares rose to $75.89 in trading after the bell. They closed at $73.85 on Thursday on the Nasdaq.

The stock has gained 14 percent in past 6 months, trailing the 31 percent rise in the S&P 500 Application Software Index during the same period.

(Reporting By Neha Dimri in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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