Intuit Inc. Talks a $20 Billion Opportunity, Online Ecosystem Revenue, and More

Financial software company Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) reported strong second-quarter results last week, maintaining double-digit revenue growth even with a one-week delay in the opening of tax season. Revenue increased 15% year over year while adjusted earnings per share climbed 35%. Further, Intuit's QuickBooks Online subscribers continued to soar higher, rising 51% year over year. But there was much more to the quarter for investors to mull over than these headline figures. During Intuit's second-quarter earnings call, management shared more insight into TurboTax Live, QuickBooks Online subscriber growth, and its online ecosystem revenue. QuickBooks Online. Image source: Intuit. A $20 billion opportunity With tax season in full swing, TurboTax is ready to tap into the market for assisted tax filings like never before. After launching TurboTax Live, a service that lets tax professionals assist TurboTax filers online, Intuit says it has opened itself up to a $20 billion opportunity. When asked during Intuit's second-quarter earnings call whether management is putting more focus on growing average revenue per user than it is growing customer count now that the company is expanding into assisted tax filings, Intuit CEO Brad Smith responded: There's $20 billion worth of spend in the assisted tax prep method. We believe now with a platform that has 2,000 experts answering questions, we can also go after share of dollars, not just share of market. Don't overlook this catalyst QuickBooks Online subscriber growth has been decelerating, falling from 59% year over year in the third quarter of fiscal 2017 to 51% growth in Intuit's just-ended quarter. And management expects this trend to continue, guiding for 37% to 42% year-over-year growth in QuickBooks Online subscribers for the full fiscal year of 2018. But this deceleration should be expected, as Intuit benefited from a surge in new QuickBooks Online customers during a 100-day period last tax season, Continue Reading

Midas Hospitality Hires Director of Revenue Management

Midas Hospitality, a premier hotel management group, recently hired Morgan Bilek as Director of Revenue Management. In this position, Bilek will implement and execute the company-wide revenue management culture and philosophy.  Her responsibilities include handling transient and group pricing strategies, creating a proper segmentation mix, and overseeing revenue management objectives and strategies in order to maximize hotel room revenue at all Midas properties. Bilek has more than 12 years of hospitality experience.  Prior to joining Midas Hospitality, she worked as the Director of Revenue Management for a hospitality management group based in Kentucky.  She also has worked in a similar capacity for a hospitality property operator and developer in Wyoming. “Morgan’s extensive IHG and Marriott brand experience, coupled with a strategically-focused financial mindset, makes her a great fit for Midas,” said Kurt Furlong, EVP Sales & Marketing and Principal.  “She brings a vast mix of communication and analytical skills to this position, and we look forward to working with her.”  Founded in 2006, Midas Hospitality has developed, opened and currently manages numerous properties including 40 hotels in 14 states.  The company serves global brands including Hilton, IHG, Marriott, and Starwood.  Midas Hospitality’s headquarters are located at 1804 Borman Circle Dr. in Maryland Heights, Mo.  For more information, call (314) 692-0100 or visit Continue Reading

Glendale approves new Gila River Arena-management contract with AEG Facilities

The Glendale City Council placed the city's reputation as a big league hockey and entertainment mecca into the trust of arena-management firm AEG Facilities on Tuesday night.The council voted 7-0 to approve a $28 million, five-year contract with the Los Angeles-based company to run Gila River Arena.Glendale officials directed AEG Facilities executives to fill the venue at the Westgate Entertainment District with concerts and, more importantly, repair the city's battered relationship with the Arizona Coyotes.Coyotes President Anthony LeBlanc has said repeatedly for months that the hockey team's owners are exploring options to relocate to a new arena in Phoenix, Tempe or elsewhere in metropolitan Phoenix.AEG Facilities' deal comes with an out-clause that allows the company to renegotiate the deal or to walk away from it if the Coyotes vacate Gila River Arena or if the arena's naming-rights agreement crumbles.The team's current agreement with Glendale runs through the end of next season. The Coyotes' future beyond then remains uncertain. RELATED:  Coyotes want lawmakers to create special taxing district for new arenaLeBlanc said the team's owners anticipate a future that represents a "solid win" for taxpayers, hockey fans, the team's partners and the team, but he has yet to provide details about the options they are pursuing.Speaking to reporters before the council vote, AEG Facilities Chief Operating Officer Charles Steedman said he is acting under the presumption that the Coyotes will remain at the arena, where they have struggled to draw crowds."We've never looked at a scenario without the Coyotes," he said.AEG Facilities and Coyotes executives have had preliminary discussions, Steedman said, describing the talks as friendly, forthright and honest.The Coyotes currently manage the arena, but team executives chose not submit a bid when the Continue Reading

Winners and losers in radio ad revenue

Tempting as it is to gauge radio stations by ratings, the real internal measure of success is ad revenue. So let's look at the just-released 2006 radio revenue estimates from Virginia-based BIA Financial, which reflect a couple of fairly dramatic changes. Okay, not much has changed at the very top, where adult contemporary WLTW (106.7 FM) is No. 1 in ad revenue, with $65.6 million, just as it's No. 1 in listenership. All-news WINS (1010 AM), another perennial winner, is second at $59.7 million. All-news WCBS-AM (880) and all-sports WFAN (660 AM) were third and fourth with $56.2 million and $50.6 million. Top-40 WHTZ was fifth with $47.3 million, and from there it's a big drop to adult contemporary WPLJ (95.5 FM) in sixth place with $37.2 million. But WPLJ is instructive. In total listenership it's hovering around 20th place. But because it reaches listeners advertisers want - in this case, a lot of suburban women - it's a very profitable operation. As a music format, WPLJ is also cheaper to operate than the news and sports formats at WINS, WCBS-AM and WFAN. The biggest change in ad revenue from 2005 to 2006 surprised no one. In 2005, with Howard Stern in the morning, WXRK (92.3 FM) billed $50.8 million. In 2006, the Stern-less WFNY billed $18.7 million - a drop of more than 60%. It would be hard to find a more persuasive argument about Stern's radio stature. WFNY's parent CBS Radio also struggled with WCBS-FM (101.1). In 2005, when it switched from oldies to "Jack" in mid-year, WCBS-FM billed $23.9 million, well below the almost $40 million it billed a few years earlier in its oldies heyday. Then in 2006, with a full year of "Jack," it billed just $16.1 million. CBS Radio's WWFS (102.7 FM), did slightly better, billing $18 million - up from 2005, but still in 17th place. CBS Radio just hired new management and it's safe to say boosting revenues at its New York stations will be a priority. The turf is also shifting for hip-hop rivals WQHT (97.1 FM) and WWPR Continue Reading

Audit claims gold course manager shorted city

An audit of the organization that runs a city golf course in the Bronx found a hole in one of their books, according to the City Comptroller's office. First Tee Metropolitan New York, a non-profit dedicated to bringing more young people into the game of golf, bogeyed its revenue reports, the audit found. "My auditors identified internal-control weaknesses in the manner in which First Tee recorded $537,482 in revenue that was reported to the city," said Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. But the non-profit said the problem lies in the vague wording of the agreement on calculating revenue. First Tee has managed the Mosholu Golf Course at Van Cortlandt Park since 2004 under an agreement with the Parks and Recreation Department to operate and maintain the course, driving range, snack bar and pro shop. Under the agreement, First Tee must pay the city either a minimum annual fee of $140,000 or a percentage of gross receipts, whichever is greater. First Tee also is required to reconfigure and make temporary improvements to the golf course after portions of it were selected by the city's Environmental Protection and Parks Departments as the site of a new water-treatment plant. The agreement stipulates that the city will reimburse First Tee quarterly for the revenue lost as a result of disruptions caused by the treatment plant's construction. The audit found that the amount of gross receipts First Tee reported to Parks for 2006 - $537,482 - did not contain an additional $18,704 from program fees which should have been included. Auditors also questioned an additional $21,245 in receipts designated as sponsorships because they lacked adequate documentation to qualify. The additional gross receipts would not have changed the $140,000 minimum annual fee or the $52,111 in surcharges paid by First Tee to the Parks Department, but the additional receipts do affect the reimbursements that First Tee received for lost revenue. According to Thompson, First Tee Continue Reading

New York water rates may soar as revenues fall

The subprime mortgage crisis may be taking a toll on New York's water payments - and could force every water customer to pay higher bills next year. Water bill payments plunged to $118 million last month, down from $134 million in September last year - even after water rates went up 11.5% this year - and the city can't figure out why. The dilemma could force the Water Board to raise rates by an emergency 18% in January to stave off a projected $200 million shortfall by the end of this fiscal year, Executive Director Steve Lawitts said. "It could be some of the effect of the subprime mortgage problem," Lawitts told the Daily News, referring to loans given to borrowers whose credit ratings fall short of standards for regular mortgages. "We're trying to do some cross-checking of addresses to see if there's a correlation." Mayor Bloomberg has warned city agencies to tighten their belts, and many homeowners in poorer areas of Brooklyn and Queens are behind on their subprime mortgages or facing foreclosure. The Department of Environmental Protection is pushing for expanded authority to enforce liens on almost $600 million in unpaid water bills. Mayor Bloomberg supported the idea yesterday, saying it could forestall the need for a rate hike. "You're paying your fees and some other people are not paying the fees that they owe to the Water Board," Bloomberg said. "An awful lot of people say, 'They are not going to come after me, so I'm not going to pay.'" Critics in the City Council say water bills are notoriously inaccurate, and that the Water Board will needlessly pay $77 million to the city's general fund this year. "The magnitude of this shortfall and the city's inability to identify its causes reflect a breathtaking failure and strongly suggest that DEP must better understand and manage its finances," Controller William Thompson wrote to the Water Board yesterday. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

J.C. Penney sees sales, revenue slip

J.C. Penney’s efforts to win back shoppers by being more fashion-forward and focused on service didn't pay off at the start of the year as the retail chain reported a steep loss amid weaker sales.Sales in the quarter that ended April 29 slipped to $2.7 billion, down from $2.8 billion in the same period last year, the company said Friday. Sales at stores open at least a year slipped 3.5%. The retailer posted a net loss of $180 million, or 58 cents per share. That was more than twice its loss of $68 million, or 22 cents a share  during the same period last year.The results sent the chain's stock price plunging, down 12% to $4.65 a share in afternoon trading Friday.J.C. Penney is the latest retailer to report how it fared financially at the start of the year, and its results were another sign that the industry has yet to reverse a pattern of diminishing revenue and sales as  shopping shifts online and Amazon's dominance grows.Macy's said a day earlier that its profit at the start of the year dropped 38% because of  slipping sales. Kohl's saw sales fall 2.7% but managed to boost profits because it cut down on discounts and made sure it did not have more products on its shelves than it could sell.J.C. Penney, which had mostly maintained its wide network of stores, announced in February that it would follow in the footsteps of many of its retail rivals and shutter 138 locations, offering buyouts to 6,000 workers. The company said Friday that liquidation sales will start this month, and the stores will be closed by July 31. Many traditional retailers have decided they have to concentrate on a smaller number of brick-and-mortar storefronts to make a profit as shoppers increasingly do their window shopping, and buying, online. Macy's and Sears are among the once-dominant department stores that have closed dozens of locations.J.C. Penney faces a challenge from fast-fashion giants Continue Reading

Powell: How to manage the risk of inflation in retirement

Americans worry a lot about inflation. In fact, one in three (32%) Americans were either “panicked” or “very worried” about the rising cost of living in retirement, according to a recent study. But that worry about what is also called purchasing power risk isn’t translating into action. It appears that 64%of Americans don’t have a financial plan that addresses the rising cost of living in retirement, according to the Allianz Life Insurance Company of North America. And the plan that most people have is this: Be more frugal with money.So, what should Americans do to manage and mitigate the rising cost of living, which those surveyed by Allianz Life predict to rise 4.4% per year in retirement?Get smart. Americans may not fully understand how inflation will affect them in their retirement. Consider: Respondents to the Allianz Life survey estimated by the average cost of living increase by 4.4% each year in retirement, but 31% of respondents thought the cost of living would go up between 5%-10% per year and nearly 1 in 10 (8%) reported costs would increase more than 10% each year. Inflation, however, has averaged 2.15% for the last 20 years, according to Allianz Life.To be sure, there’s no guarantee that inflation will continue to average less than 3% for the next 20 years. But it’s a good idea to estimate inflation’s impact on your retirement plan by calculating what $1 today will buy in future years using best-, worst-, and likely-case estimates. To do this, use a calculator such as that found at, learn how your expenses will change in retirement and the rate of inflation for those expenditures. “Take a comprehensive look at potential retirement-income expenses and consider the impact of inflation,” says Deb Repya, vice president of consumer insights for Allianz Life. “One key area of focus should be health-care costs and medical expenses. It is very likely that there will be Continue Reading


The VGM (video gaming machine) honeymoon between Monticello Raceway and its horsemen apparently is over. In stalled negotiations, the horsemen are demanding 9. 5% of future VGM revenues, and say the track is only willing to pay 7. 5%. But as a reflection of the growing bitterness, the half-mile oval in the Catskills, which over the last year has seen its best racing in the 47-year history of the track - a product that rivals that of Freehold Raceway - saw purses plummet 50% starting with yesterday's program. "Purses are a product of the amount of handle," track vice president of operations Cliff Ehrlich said of why the track slashed purses. "What's happened is that the horsemen have cut off our simulcasting signal to out-of-state sites. " Without any wagers being taken outside of the Empire State, total handle at Monticello has plummeted. Two Mondays ago, wagering was $769,000; on Monday, only $241,000 was pushed through the windows. The Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association felt that if it cut off the out-of-town signal, it would force management to come to the bargaining table and hammer out a contract, something the horsemen have not had since just before the VGMs were installed in July of 2004. "Management decided that the horsemen should be punished," said Joe Faraldo, who is the lawyer for the Monticello horsemen. "So the purses have been cut. " This is a bad situation. The quality of racing, as it is now, does not have anywhere near the appeal it did before. That's something that hurts both sides. If the public is given a choice between wagering on Monti or Freehold, the Freehold product looks far better at this time. "We want 9. 25% of the VGM revenues," Faraldo said of the major sticking point, "and management wants to pay 7. 5%. " Ehrlich would not talk about specific numbers or what the track might be willing to pay, but wondered if the masses are being represented. "The horsemen's association at Monticello, by and Continue Reading

Ferguson city manager out after Justice Department report

FERGUSON, Mo. — The Ferguson City Council on Tuesday evening unanimously approved a resolution to remove City Manager John Shaw following a scathing Justice Department report that already has led to a Missouri appeals court judge being tapped to overhaul the local court system. The City Council in the St. Louis suburb, beleaguered by unrest since a white police officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown last summer, held its first public meeting since the U.S. Department of Justice last week accused its police force and municipal court system of racial bias. A news release handed out at the meeting said the Council had reached a “mutual separation agreement” with Shaw. The statement also said a nationwide search for Shaw’s replacement would begin immediately. The Justice Department investigation already has resulted in a shake-up: Racist emails included in the report led to the firing of the city clerk and resignation of two police officers last week. And on Monday, Municipal Judge Ronald J. Brockmeyer resigned and was immediately replaced by the Missouri Supreme Court with a state appellate judge empowered to overhaul court policies to “restore the integrity of the system.” Since Brown’s death seven months ago, Mayor James Knowles has been the public face and voice of Ferguson’s city government. But it’s City Manager John Shaw who is its chief executive and holds the legal power to make personnel and policy changes in the police department — not Knowles, a part-time officeholder who earns less than $5,000 annually. Ferguson’s city charter prohibits elected officials from “dictating the appointment or removal” of any city employees, including Police Chief Tom Jackson, whom Shaw hired in 2010. Knowles and other City Council members are also forbidden from giving “orders, directions or Continue Reading