Kansas City, MO (Jan. 9, 2003) - H&R Block Inc. says it is on target to meet or beat fiscal 2003 earnings, despite some analyst and broker comments to the contrary.

The country’s number one tax preparer, Tuesday said it expects fiscal year 2003 earnings of $2.90-to-$3.10 per share. The company made the announcement at an analyst conference in New York. The anticipated earnings are lower than most consensus estimates for the company. Thomson Financial/First Call said the brokers it surveyed expected the firm to earn $3.21 per share.

"We just don’t think some of those estimates are accurate and we haven’t changed our guidance," said Bob Schneider, communications manager at H&R Block. "Some brokers may have their own estimates, but we said back in November that these were the numbers we expected (for fiscal 2003). In fact, we have been known to beat our own expected performance and have even raised our expectations over the past year and a half."

Schneider also claims that some analysts may have made their estimates based on recurring operations and not included one-time gains. In November, H&R Block recorded a cash gain of $147 million from mortgage residuals.

H &R Block agreed last month to pay $4.2 million to settle a New York City lawsuit over high-interest loans that were given in advance of tax refunds. The company, however, said the settlement would have no impact on future financial results because it would be paid out of a previously identified reserve fund.

H&R Block expects revenue growth in range of 12-13 percent for fiscal 2003, based on recurring operations, according to Schneider. He also expects a 13-18 percent earnings increase, compared with the previous year. The company’s fiscal year ends April 30 and an earnings report is expected in June.

-- Seth Fineberg

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