(Updated to include further detail from the company's press release)



) -- Toll Brothers, the luxury homebuilder, indicated Thursday that it might be emerging from one of the worst periods in its history.

While the company posted a wider third-quarter loss on revenue that sank 42%, Chairman and CEO Robert Toll said the company is "seeing some signs of optimism."

Toll Brothers shares slipped about 1% to $22.86 in afternoon trading Thursday.

During the quarter the company recorded a loss of $472.3 million, or $2.93 a share, compared with a loss of $29.3 million, or 18 cents a share, in same period a year ago.

Revenue in the period fell to $461.4 million from $796.7 million a year earlier.

A $439.3 million tax hit and write-downs of $115 million contributed to the steep loss. Excluding those charges, Toll Brothers said it would have earned $3.7 million. Analysts expected a loss of $1.79 a share on revenue of $460.7 million.

The company said it sold 792 homes during the quarter, down 36% from last year.

Toll Brothers said business in the ongoing quarter is looking up, with the number of buyers putting down deposits for a new home up 26% from the same time last year.

The cancellation rate of 9% in the third quarter is also the lowest in three years. Among the regions showing signs of improvement are the New York City suburbs, Raleigh, N.C., and Washington, D.C., as well as some areas of Virginia, Connecticut, Florida, Delaware and northern California.

Earlier this week it was also reported that

home prices rose 3% in the second quarter

, their first sequential gain in three years, according to the Standard & Poor/Case Shiller's U.S. National Home Price Index.

Toll Brother's brighter outlook is in-line with recent housing data. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported that

sales of new homes jumped 9.6% in July

, the fourth straight monthly increase.

Earlier in the month, homebuilder

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Report

said its quarterly loss narrowed as it took a lesser amount in charges against the falling values of its land and unsold homes. It also saw new home orders jump 22%.

Not all builders have had positive news to report this earnings season.

Pulte Homes

(PHM) - Get Report

posted a wider loss of $189.5 million, or 74 cents a share, missing analysts' forecast.

Shares of homebuilders were mostly in the red Thursday afternoon. Pulte sank 5% to $12.67,

KB Home

(KBH) - Get Report

fell 5% to $17.41 and


(LEN) - Get Report

dropped 5% to $14.81.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York; Joseph Woelfel contributed to this report


Copyright 2009 TheStreet.com Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.