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Earnings, schmearnings: Intuit's stock bogged down by QuickBooks growth

Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Intuit's stock slid 2 percent Wednesday despite the financial software firm's better-than-expected quarterly results the previous night.

Intuit reported adjusted earnings of $3.43 on revenue of $2.3 billion, topping Wall Street's estimates of $3.19 per share on $2.25 billion in revenue, according to the Associated Press. The maker of QuickBooks and TurboTax said it now expects revenue growth of 11 to 12 percent for the full fiscal year.

"This was simply a great season for TurboTax," said CEO Brad Smith.

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But, despite earning more than predicted during tax season, Intuit failed to impress some industry analysts, as its QuickBooks Online subscriber growth rate declined for the third consecutive quarter.

"I think it has to do with expectations and the seasonality of the stock," said Crawford del Prete of IDC, who does not cover Intuit but does cover competitors. "They had a great quarter. My bet is that there's skepticism that demand can continue without the seasonal strength that tax season represents."

Prior quarters had seen growth rates above 50 percent, noted Stifel analyst Brad Reback in a research note, writing "it only gets harder from here" as the subscriber base becomes saturated.

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"We believe these early data points are likely an early indication that Intuit is now in the midst of fighting an increasingly uphill battle against the law of large numbers," Reback wrote.

S&P Global reiterated their "hold" opinion of the shares Wednesday, and Wedbush kept its "neutral" view of the stock.

Still, UBS analyst Brent Thill said that Intuit's challenges are "less concerning than many think."

"Our positive thesis remains unchanged," Thill wrote in a research note.