PulteGroup 3rd quarter loss narrows on lower charges

BLOOMFIELD HILLS (AP) -- PulteGroup Inc.'s third quarter loss narrowed on lower charges and a higher tax benefit, and its revenue grew.

The homebuilder said Thursday that it was profitable if charges related to the decline in its stock price and other special items were stripped out. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich., company hasn't posted a quarterly profit since summer 2010, according to FactSet.

PulteGroup's stock climbed 17 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $5.10 in premarket trading. The stock has lost about 35 percent of its value this year.

PulteGroup said it lost $129.3 million, or 34 cents per share, in the July-September quarter. That compares with a loss of $995.1 million, or $2.63 per share, a year ago.

Earnings were 11 cents per share excluding a higher tax benefit and one-time charges.

Analysts polled by FactSet had expected a loss of a penny per share.

Revenue rose 8 percent to $1.14 billion from $1.06 billion, beating Wall Street's $1.06 billion estimate.

PulteGroup said operations improved despite the weak housing market. It cut costs and improved margins.

Home closings, a key component of revenue, rose 9 percent to 4,198 homes. But net new home orders were flat at 3,564 homes.

The company had a backlog of 5,143 homes, valued at $1.4 billion, on Sept. 30. A year ago, PulteGroup had a backlog of 5,345 homes, also valued at $1.4 billion.

New home sales have declined nationally this summer amid growing uncertainty over the U.S. economy, stubbornly high unemployment and concerns that U.S. home prices have yet to hit bottom.

PulteGroup operates in 29 states. Its Del Webb brand is the nation's largest builder of communities for adults age 55 and over.

Published: Fri, Oct 28, 2011