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Homebuilders See Stable Housing Market Ahead

Stocks in this article: BZH MDC MHO PHM

At Atlanta's Beazer Homes, customer traffic has been on the rise, reflecting what its president and CEO, Allan Merrill, sees as "significant pent-up demand for new homes forming in many of our markets."

Merrill noted during a conference call that, even as mortgage interest rates remain near record lows, that demand hasn't translated into sales. Still, Beazer expects to close more homes in fiscal 2012 than it did last year.

Uncertainty over the economy, high unemployment and concerns that home prices have yet to hit bottom are keeping many prospective homebuyers on the sidelines. Builders also are struggling to compete with cheap foreclosures.

Here's how the individual companies fared in the October-to-December quarter:

â¿¿ PulteGroup, based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., earned $13.8 million, or 4 cents a share, compared with a loss of $165.4 million, or 44 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 7 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue increased 6 percent to $1.26 billion from $1.19 billion, beating Wall Street's $1.13 billion.

Pulte shares ended regular trading down 8 cents to $7.75.

â¿¿ Denver-based MDC Holdings' loss narrowed to $18.8 million, or 40 cents a share, compared with a loss of about $30 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest results included charges of $20.2 million related to paying off debt and $2.7 million from asset write downs.

Analysts were expecting, on average, a loss of 50 cents a share on $257.6 million in revenue. MDC Holdings' revenue fell 5 percent to $247.4 million.

MDC shares gained $1.99, or 9.8 percent, to $22.40 in regular trading.

â¿¿ Atlanta's Beazer reported net income of $739,000, or a penny a share, compared with a loss of $48.8 million, or 66 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest results included a tax gain of $35.7 million and a one-time charge of $3.5 million. Revenue surged 73 percent to $188.5 million.

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