DR Horton Posts Quarterly Loss

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A carpenter helps to frame a house under construction

    D.R. Horton Inc. says it lost money in its fiscal first quarter, reversing a year-ago profit, as the housing market continued to struggle.

    The homebuilder closed on fewer houses and revenue fell by nearly one-third.

    The company said Thursday it lost $20.4 million, or 6 cents per share, in the three months ended Dec. 31. That compares with a profit of $192 million, or 56 cents a share, in the prior-year period, when the company got a one-time tax benefit of $149.2 million.

    Revenue plunged 31 percent to $767 million from $1.11 billion.

    The first-quarter loss included $8.4 million in pretax charges covering write-downs. Analysts, who generally exclude items from their calculations, were expecting a loss of 3 cents per share on revenue of $777.2 million, according to FactSet.

    Horton closed on 3,637 homes, down from 5,529 a year earlier. Orders for the quarter fell 17 percent to 3,363, with declines in every region except the East, which accounted for only one-eighth of Horton's orders. The company ended the quarter with fewer homes under contract than a year earlier.

    Chairman Donald R. Horton said that despite more affordable housing and low interest rates, the market is still plagued by rising foreclosures, a glut of homes for sale and tight mortgage-lending standards. Consumer confidence is weak in the face of high unemployment.

    Over the next few months, Horton and other homebuilders will be hard-pressed to match their sales orders from last year, when tax credits stimulated home sales. The tax credit expired last April.

    The company said, however, it expects sales to rise as housing moves from the slow winter months to its typically stronger spring selling season.

    Fort Worth-based Horton operates in 26 states and mostly targets first-time homebuyers with houses in some markets starting at under $100,000.