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H&R Block stock sinks on weak tax-season results

H&R Block
Scott Eelis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of H&R Block were the biggest laggards in the S&P 500 Wednesday, plunging because of a disappointing tax season.

H&R Block said the number of U.S. tax returns handled during this tax season fell by nearly 6 percent, prompting the company to make some structural changes to its business. H&R stock closed down 13.56 percent at $20.59 per share, near its lowest level since January 2013.

The tax preparation firm said it will lay off 250 employees as part of a cost-cutting effort. It also plans to realign its operations, with a number of leadership changes, including CFO Greg Macfarlane's move to an operational role. The company said it would give more information when it releases annual results on June 9.

"The volume losses are not acceptable and as CEO, I take complete responsibility for delivering stronger results," Chief Executive Bill Cobb said in a statement.

Oppenheimer's Scott Schneeberger says this is H&R Block's fourth-consecutive year of overall volume declines, and the future of the company is uncertain. "While H&R Block also seeks to reinvigorate its top line, its path is unclear ahead of an update expected when it reports FY16 results on 6/9/16," he wrote in a note to investors. Schneeberger cut his rating on the stock from outperform to market perform and withdrew his $29 price target.

The drop in H&R Block shares came a day after Intuit, the maker of TurboTax software, raised its guidance for consumer-tax revenue for the current quarter. Intuit cited a 15 percent increase in online sales of TurboTax through April 24.

Analysts at Credit Suisse warned that growth in Intuit's do-it-yourself TurboTax is a negative for H&R Block.

With Wednesday's decline, H&R Block stock has lost more than 38 percent this year.