(Homebuilder stocks earnings article updated with Hovnanian Enterprises results.)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Homebuilders have been under pressure for some time as the housing market continues to struggle to regain its footing.
The luxury homebuilder said net earnings in the recent quarter came to $50.5 million, or 30 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier net loss of $111.4 million, or 68 cents loss per share. Analysts' consensus call had been for Toll Brothers to book a fourth-quarter loss of $10.2 million, or 8 cents loss per share. Despite the earnings beat, investors bid Toll Brothers shares 0.9% lower in premarket trading Thursday. The builder's surprise profit came as the homebuilder benefited from a $59.9 million tax benefit in the quarter. In the year-earlier quarter Toll Brothers suffered a tax expense of $4.7 million. Toll Brothers' quarterly revenue decreased by 17.3% to $402.6 million, from $486.6 million, but the top-line figure still managed to top Wall Street's expectations for revenue of $393.8 million. Homebuilding deliveries of 700 units in the quarter fell 19% year-over-year. Signed net contracts of $315.3 million and 558 units dropped 27% in both dollars and units compared with Toll Brothers' fiscal fourth quarter of 2009. CEO Douglas C. Yearley Jr. conceded it had been another challenging year for Toll Brothers as the homebuilding sector struggled with waning demand and a still-unhealthy housing market. "The persistent drag of high unemployment, reduced home equity, weak consumer confidence and frustration with the nation's economic and political climate outweighed the appeal of historic low interest rates and tremendous home affordability," he said. "Many of our clients remain on the sidelines waiting for clearer signs that the economy is on the road to recovery," the CEO added.
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