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Turn Signals

MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Tax software is a two-horse race-or maybe a one-horse race with Intuit's TurboTax so far ahead of its only remaining rival, Block Financial's TaxCut. TurboTax last year won back share it lost to lower-priced TaxCut in 2003, according to market researcher NPD Group. Early returns show the leader making more gains this year. But Chris Swenson, NPD's director of software industry analysis, says TaxCut will remain in the race, with Block's new professional-backed filing services helping keep the product competitive. Swenson says retail dollar sales of personal tax software grew at a compound annual rate of 15.6% from 2002-2004-"red hot growth for such a mature category."

Admarket 50

CRUELEST MONTH? Springtime, and the stocks are steady. AdMarket 50 went into April besting, ever so slightly, the S&P's gains. Thirty-eight AdMarket 50 stocks posted gains while 11 fell. (Disney ended the week even, which is perhaps a respite in a decidedly dramatic year thus far.) Top gainer-never mind the tumult of the past few weeks-was Interpublic Group of Cos., which was buoyed by a call in which its executives disclosed better-than-expected (if preliminary) revenue numbers.

The losers were led by DaimlerChrysler, following a week in which its top brass were grilled by shareholders at a meeting in Berlin amid continued concerns over its slumping Mercedes unit. Wal-Mart issued a tepid forecast and narrowly missed making the big losers list, with its stock price dropping 0.23% as it continued to hover near 52-week lows.

Advertising Age and Bloomberg's AdMarket 50 index of 50 top publicly traded marketer, agency, and media companies for the week ended April 8 based on stock trading data supplied by Bloomberg financial news service. All comparison are vs. closing prices on April 1. Full data available on Bloomberg terminals under index BAAX.

Source: NPD Group

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