Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU) develops financial software targeted at individuals and small businesses. Over 80% of its revenue comes from its three main products: TurboTax, a tax preparation software available in both online and in stores,Quicken, a personal finance tool, and Quickbooks, a small business accounting software. TurboTax and Quickbooks dominate their respective fields, with TurboTax owning 39% of the retail tax preparation software market, and Quickbooks holding 89% of the small business accounting software market. The company earned $3.18 billion in revenue and $447 million in net income in 2009.
Intuit's strategy has been to focus on customer satisfaction and simplifying the user experience. Despite the strong performance of its two major products, the company spends 80% of its R&D budget on the continued development of Quickbooks and TurboTax. The company has also positioned itself to be a major player in the growing online market, with TurboTax and Quickbooks both offering online editions. The recent acquisition of Digital Insight (a provider of online banking services) and pending launch of FinanceWorks plays into this strategy as well. However, the online market for tax preparation has become more competitive than the retail one, and recent server problems have damaged TurboTax's credibility, a concern for a company focused on user experience. To maintain growth, the company will have to continue satisfying current customers with new product cycles and add-in services, as well as fend off low-cost competition online.
Intuit has five business segments that it divides into four categories:
Intuit said its small business division showed 16 percent growth, and gained customers through its QuickBooks and Intuit Websites products.
The company also said that personal finance management site Mint.com ended the quarter with more than 3 million users.
Due to the nature of tax season and the annual product release cycle, the performance of Quickbooks and TurboTax is highly seasonal. Traditionally, Intuit has reported strong earnings in the second and third quarters of the fiscal year (1/31 through 7/31), while posting losses in Q1 and Q4.
While retail still comprises the majority of TurboTax sales (5.5 million units, versus 5.2 million paid federal units online), TurboTax Online is growing much faster. The company's acquisition of Digital Insight and the pending release of their online banking software is another move towards capitalizing on the emerging online financial market, as consumers become more comfortable with conducting financial transactions online.
This new market has also provided new challenges. While the retail version of TurboTax has a sizable cost advantage over professional tax preparation firms, it faces considerable price competition online, where lower startup costs and fewer barriers to entry have allowed a number of low-cost competitors to enter the field. Online filing is also vulnerable to changing user filing habits, with more and more customers filing later in the season (a trend that has been noted industry-wide).
TurboTax faces a wide variety of competitors in a fragmented tax preparation market. With H&R Block's TaxCut software as its only direct competitor, TurboTax dominates the retail market with four copies sold for every copy of TaxCut, despite TaxCut's lower cost. TurboTax also has a retention rate of around 75%, and thus most competition with TaxCut is over new users.
Online, TurboTax is facing increasing pressure from TaxCut, as well as ad-supported TaxACT and other low-cost competitors. TurboTax also competes indirectly with traditional tax preparation services, such as H&R Block (HRB), Jackson-Hewitt, CPAs, and local mom-and-pop accounting services. Traditional services still account for the majority of tax returns filed, despite the cost advantage of TurboTax and other DIY methods.
Quickbooks is also dominant in its field, where its only real competition is Peachtree Software. Microsoft (MSFT) was expected to pose a threat, with its Small Business Accounting software bundled at no cost with versions of its popular Office suite.
Intuit is most focused on targeting non-consumers, i.e., tax filers and small businesses who still prefer to work with a pencil, paper, and spreadsheet. With its growth strategy focused beyond its immediate competitors to capturing customers from the larger market of imperfect substitutes, the company does not attempt to compete using price leverage. TurboTax carries a price premium over TaxCut, and the standalone version of Small Business Accounting is less than half the price of the cheapest Quickbooks offering.