|NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- H&R Block(HRB - Get Report[/url])CEO Bill Cobb expressed pride in his company's top-line 2015 performance in an interview with The Street, even though the bottom line had declined. For its fiscal 2015 [url=http://www.thestreet.com/story/13179565/1/block-h-r-hrb-earnings-report-q4-2015-conference-call-transcript.html]resultsreleased Monday, the company reported its third straight year of revenue growth.
"Our earnings were down primarily due to some increased depreciation and amortization," Cobb said. "When I came in four years ago, we had to do some catch-up CAPEX," he said, referring to capital expenditures. "We also bought a lot of our franchises back last year."
H&R Block said Monday that revenue for its 2015 fiscal year (which ended April 30) rose 1.8% to $3.08 billion, a spike from $3.02 billion last year. Net income for the 12-month period declined 2.6% to $487 million, or $1.75 per share, from $500 million, or $1.81 a share, a year ago. Shares of the company are down 10% thus far this year
Cobb said he was more frustrated by the delay in his company's proposed sale of H&R Block Bankto BofI Federal Bank than the slight dip in earnings. That said, he sounded positive that the transaction will be on the track.
"I think everything is going well," Cobb said. "The transaction on its merits -- this should be approved. We've had good relations with the regulators. They've asked good questions." Added Cobb: "It's pretty much in their hands at this point, but we look forward to a positive outcome." Once the sale is finally complete, Cobb said he will have a number of options due to the "billion dollars of excess capital sitting on our balance sheet." Once the bank deal closes, he will be able to inform investors about future plans, he said. Cobb said he also expects confusion over Affordable Care Act rules to continue to drive business for his company in the coming fiscal year. About 16% of his company's clients were affected by the law last year with about half of them paying a penalty. The penalty on average was $178, much higher than the $95 expected by many taxpayers, according to Cobb. "It's confusing reconciling their income against the actual advance tax credit," said Cobb. Cobb said his company is taking the threat of identity theft more seriously in the wake of the reported breach at the IRS, which exposed the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers. according to reports. "We introduced a product this year called the Tax Identity Shield, which helps people all the way from giving them a sense for how vulnerable they are to -- if they get their identity stolen -- the restoration services," said Cobb, adding, that the IRS hasn't "figured out a slick way to handle these things because this has come on like an onslaught with the fraudsters." The Street's ratings team rates H & R Block as a buy with a ratings score of A-. The team has this to say about its recommendation: "We rate BLOCK H & R INC (HRB) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."
You can view the full analysis from the report here: HRB Ratings Report At Wednesday's market close, H&R Block's shares were priced $30.30, showing a decline of 5.18% for the day. Must Read: 6 Ways Washington Will Shake Up Wall Street This Summer