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Luxury homebuilder

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Toll Brothers Inc. Report

said fiscal second-quarter homebuilding revenue declined 51% from a year earlier to $398.3 million, with net signed contracts down 40% to $298.3 million amid a continued weak housing market.

Backlog in the second quarter ended April 30 fell 55% to $944.3 million, or 48% on a units basis to 1,581 units.

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"Despite a weak economic and employment landscape, which was reflected in fiscal 2009's second-quarter contracts, we have a few reasons for cautious optimism," said Chairman and CEO Robert Toll. "The most encouraging is our recent deposit activity."

The CEO said beginning with the week ended March 22, the company's per-community, or same-store, deposits have exceeded deposits of a year earlier in seven of the past nine weeks.

The homebuilder estimates that pretax writedowns related to operating communities, land and land options, and joint ventures in the second quarter will be between $90 million and $160 million.

"Given the significant uncertainty surrounding sales paces, cancelation rates, market direction, unemployment trends and numerous other aspects of the overall economy, we are not comfortable offering earnings guidance at this time," said Chief Financial Officer Joel Rassman.

Toll said it ended the second quarter with about $1.96 billion of cash, up from $1.24 billion a year earlier.

The company said it plans to release final second-quarter results on June 3.