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) -- Toll Brothers, the luxury homebuilder, said its first-quarter loss of $40.8 million, or 25 cents a share, was narrower than a year earlier and narrower that analyst estimates.

Toll, in the same period last year, had a loss of $88.9 million, or 55 cents a share.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters estimated Toll would report a first-quarter loss of 35 cents a share.

Toll said first-quarter revenue of $326.7 million fell 20%, while homebuilding deliveries of 595 units fell 10%.

First-quarter net signed contracts of $292.1 million and 526 units rose 129% and 98%, respectively, from a year earlier.

Toll said it expects the housing market to take several years to recover, following a similar pattern after the downturn of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

"We believe the housing market is still in choppy waters but the seas are getting calmer," said Robert Toll, chairman and CEO, in a statement Wednesday.

Toll said it expects the housing recovery to take place region by region.

"The unevenness in demand we have observed since Labor Day, impacted recently by the miserable weather, has made it hard to discern the pace of recovery," the CEO said. "However, we have seen some improvement in the last four weeks, and more so in the last week."

Toll estimates it will deliver between 2,100 and 2,750 homes in the fiscal year at and average delivered price of between $540,000 and $560,000 a home.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York.

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