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Centex Bottom Line Battered

The company swings to a loss from continuing operations, worse than expectations for a break-even quarter.
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posted worse-than-expected results for its fiscal fourth quarter as revenue continued to be hammered amid the ongoing housing downturn.

For the quarter ended March 31, the Dallas-based homebuilder posted a loss from continuing operations of $22.3 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with year-earlier earnings of $369 million, or $2.86 a share.

In January, Centex projected a break-even quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial forecast a loss of 3 cents a share.

The loss excludes earnings from discontinued operations of $221.1 million related to the company's construction services business, which was sold in March, and certain home equity operations. Including those profits, Centex recorded net income of $198.9 million, or $1.60 a share, down from $391.8 million, or $3.04 a share, a year earlier.

Revenue slid to $3.67 billion from $4.13 billion. Wall Street expected a top line of $3.34 billion, according to Thomson Financial.

Centex, noting "one of the most difficult markets in 25 years," said home closings tumbled 14% to 10,582 units. The homebuilding division reported an operating loss of $17 million, including the write-off of $96 million of land-option deposits and $106 million of land-valuation adjustments.

Centex said it still sees uncertainty in many of its markets, but it believes it is in a position to increase market share and generate additional cash.