Beazer Comes Up Big

It blows out the fourth quarter, though 2007 remains tricky.
Author:
Publish date:

Beazer Homes (BZH) - Get Report beat fiscal fourth-quarter earnings targets but warned that housing market fundamentals remain difficult.

The Atlanta-based homebuilder said it cut its staff by 25% in the last two months in a bid to shore up its foundation for continuing market turbulence. Beazer also reduced its controlled lot count by 15% in an effort to trim land supply as closings slow.

For the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, Beazer made $92 million, or $2.19 a share, down from the year-ago $164 million, or $3.61 a share. Revenue rose to $1.88 billion from $1.81 billion a year earlier.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for a $1.65-a-share profit on revenue of $1.51 billion.

Fourth-quarter home closings rose to 6,411 from 6,339 a year earlier, and orders plunged to 2,064 from 4,937. Beazer said its operating margin dropped to 8% from 14% as the company dangled discounts to lure buyers.

Beazer reiterated it expects to close on 12,000-13,500 houses during fiscal 2007. The company said it can make $3.65 a share, in line with the Wall Street estimate, if it closes on 13,500 houses and if margins stabilize at fourth-quarter levels. The company said it can't forecast its earnings if house sales come in at the low end of its targeted range, as it's too early to assess the level of margins, the potential for additional impairments, or further overhead reductions required at that level.