Tax-prep giant H&R Block Inc. trimmed its first-quarter loss to $28.3 million versus the year-ago-period, while posting a 26 percent rise in revenue, to $615 million.

"We've started the year with a strong first quarter, highlighted by double-digit revenue increases in all business segments," said Mark A. Ernst, chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.  "Even with our continuing investment in new tax offices, we saw an improvement over the loss posted last year."

During its fiscal first quarter for 2004, H&R Block posted a loss of $36.7 million.

First-quarter revenues for its tax services segment increased 13 percent, to $57.2 million.  The business segment reported a pretax loss of $144.5 million, a 28-percent increase over the first quarter loss of last year. Block attributed the red ink to the addition of tax offices during the past year and ongoing expansion efforts of the company's tax office network.

H&R Block's mortgage business reported a 23 percent increase in first quarter pretax income to $134.5 million.  Revenues climbed 33 percent, to $360.4 million.

The company also said revenues from its RSM McGladrey CPA and business advisory firm and related units rose 16 percent, to $126.8 million and its cut its pre-tax loss to $6.8 million compared with a loss of $10 million over the first quarter of last year. On Aug. 1, the company agreed to acquire the American Express Tax & Business Services division a deal that is expected to close at the end of September.

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