Jackson Hewitt Tax Service said that its network of offices prepared 3.3 million tax returns for fiscal 2005, up 5.9 percent over last year.

The company also upped its guidance for the fiscal year ended in April due to stronger-than-expected profitability with respect to its company-owned office segment and refund anticipation loans.

The Parsippany, N.J.-based franchiser said that tax returns prepared increased by 6.7 percent on an annual basis for its franchise segment, and 0.9 percent for its company-owned office segment. Of the 5,484 locations that it operated at the end of the tax season, 4,871 were franchised locations and 613 were company-owned.

Meanwhile, revenue per return for the fiscal year rose 6.7 percent. Publicly traded Jackson Hewitt is the second largest tax preparation service company in the U.S. behind Kansas City, Mo.-based H&R Block.

According to the tax prep giant, the realignment of its company-owned office segment, including the closure of underperforming locations, improved profitability, but resulted in lower tax return growth.

The company said that the number of financial products that it sold this year rose about 11 percent, to 3.1 million, including 1.2 million refund anticipation loans. The number of RALs sold marked an 8 percent increase.

Jackson Hewitt expects total revenues for the fiscal year to be between $229 million and $232 million, compared to the prior expectation of between $220 million and $225 million. Total revenues are expected to include $10.5 million to $11.5 million of other financial product revenue generated from the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust agreement with respect to refund anticipation loans facilitated in prior years (versus previous expectations of between $6 million to $7 million).

Fully diluted earnings per share for the fiscal year are expected to range from $1.30 to $1.33, versus previous guidance of $1.15 to $1.19.

Jackson Hewitt will report fourth quarter and full fiscal year financial results before the market opens on June 2.

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