NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Shares of Hovnanian Enterprises ( HOV) fell slightly in late trades on Tuesday after the Red Bank, N.J.-based home builder reported much wider loss for its fiscal second quarter vs. last year's performance as gross margins deteriorated and contract backlog declined.

The company, however, said it expects losses to lessen in the next two quarters and forecast an improvement in cash flow as well. For the three months ended April 30, Hovnanian said it lost $$72.7 million, or 69 cents a share, on revenue of $255.1 million. In the same period a year ago, the company lost $28.6 million, or 36 cents a share, on revenue of $318.6 million.

The average estimate of 12 analysts covering the stock was for a loss of 51 cents a share in the April-ended quarter on revenue of $263 million.



The stock was last quoted at $2.21, down 5.5%, on volume of more than 40,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Based on a regular session close at $2.34, the shares had fallen roughly 48% since the start of the year, and Wall Street were unabashedly bearish ahead of the report with seven of the 12 analyst ratings on the stock either underperform (4) or sell (3) and the remainder stuck at hold.

Homebuilding gross margin declined to 14.8% in the latest quarter from 17.3% in the same period last year, while contract backlog fell 21% year-over-year to 1,551 homes.

"While the spring selling season has been disappointing, there were a couple of bright spots, including a 28% year-over-year increase in net contracts in May, an increase in our community count during the second quarter and a sequential increase in backlog at April 30, 2011," said Ara Hovnanian, the company's chairman, president and CEO, in a statement.

Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance

Shares of Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance ( ULTA) rose in extended action after the specialty retailer blew past Wall Street's expectations for its fiscal first-quarter earnings as same-store sales jumped 11.1% and selling, general and administrative expenses decreased.

The stock was last quoted at $56.37, up 13.6%, on volume of more than 280,000, according to Nasdaq.com. Based on a regular session close at $49.61, the shares were already up 46% so far in 2011, and Wall Street was still mildly bullish with six of the 10 analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (3) or buy (3).

Bolingbrook, Ill.-based Ulta Salon said it earned $23.3 million, or 37 cents a share, in the April-ended quarter as total sales leapt 20.6% to $386 million. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 31 cents a share on sales of $371.6 million.

The company also gave a bullish forecast for the current quarter, saying it expects earnings of 31 to 33 cents a share and same-store sales growth of 6%-8% with total sales ranging from $378 million to $384 million. The current consensus view calls for earnings of 30 cents a share in the July-ending quarter.

Other stocks active in Tuesday's after-hours session included LDK Solar ( LDK), which dipped more than 2% to $6.95 on volume of roughly 350,000 after the company reported first-quarter earnings of $135.4 million, or 95 cents a share, but saw revenue decline 17% on a sequential basis to $766.3 million; QuinStreet ( QNST), which lost nearly 20% to $11.88 on volume of 40,000 or so after the online media and marketing company said it sees revenue of $455 million to $475 million for fiscal 2012 ending next June, below Wall Street's current consensus estimate of $480 million; and Bob Evans Farms ( BOBE), which fell 5% to $28 on volume of around 12,000 after the Columbus, Ohio-based restaurant operator missed Wall Street's top-line expectations for its fiscal fourth quarter.

-- Written by Michael Baron in New York.

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