It's that time of year again. You know what time. Time to do your taxes, or scramble at the last minute and rush off to an H&R Block ($HRB).

The tax prep gurus have a third-quarter earnings call later today, and the estimates peg the EPS at -$0.55, roughly, but with an increase in revenue year-over-year. HRB has a long history of always beating the estimate, and as long as the company makes money, people get to procrastinate on their taxes every April.

The company hit an all-time high in employee count in October, but has slowly shed off some staff ever since, declining by a scant 3%. It's honestly refreshing to see an employee count chart that doesn't just go up constantly. A wide majority of companies just grow and grow, but you can see H&R Block's line is a bit more...blocky. Like a step ladder. The only worrying trend is seeing the stock go from over $30 to under $20.

The most believable and curious bit of data is how H&R Block hiring and fires. There's a ramp-up in job openings leading up to April/May, and then a massive freefall. Rinse and repeat, every tax season, like clockwork. It's remarkable when you look at it visualized like this, a rollercoaster of ups and downs every Spring. In two months, there will be another massive drop, and you can already see it starting to happen now.

The good news is that people still need their taxes done, by professionals, in an easy and convenient way. Twitter followers have gone up 45% over the last 5+ years. Regardless of the time of year, H&R Block gets people to click 'follow'.

Mirroring the hiring chart, the Facebook 'Talking About' count sees an annual spike in chatter during the first four months of the year. I wonder why that is. Facebook Likes have leveled off this past year or so, but have increased by 36% since 2015.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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