Beazer Homes 4Q loss balloons as revenue plunges

Struggling homebuilder Beazer Homes USA Inc. said Tuesday its fiscal fourth-quarter loss more than tripled as revenue plunged and its income tax provision ballooned.

The loss for the quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled $473.9 million, or $12.29 per share, compared with a year-ago loss of $155.2 million, or $4.03 per share. The loss from continuing operations totaled $12.32 per share in the latest period.

Atlanta-based Beazer said revenue fell 35 percent to $712.6 million from $1.09 billion as home closings tumbled 38 percent.

In addition, the company's income tax provision swelled to $334.9 million versus a tax gain of $76.6 million last year. Having posted losses for the last four years, the company must reserve against deferred tax assets when it's likely those assets won't be realized.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of $2.10 per share on revenue of $593.4 million.

The homebuilder said demand for new homes continues to be hurt by low consumer confidence, falling prices, high levels of unsold new and existing homes and less access to mortgage financing.

"Conditions in both the overall economy and housing market came under greater pressure during our fourth quarter and have continued to deteriorate since that time," Ian J. McCarthy, president and chief executive, said in a statement.

Beazer said new orders rose 10 percent to 1,083 homes, driven largely by a lower cancellation rate of 45.7 percent during the period.

Home closings plunged 38 percent versus a year ago to 2,441 homes. Closings fell in all the regions where Beazer operates, but the sharpest declines occurred in the Southeast and in markets the builder has begun to exit, such as Columbus, Ohio; Denver; and Fresno, Calif.

As of Sept. 30, Beazer's backlog totaled 1,358 homes with a sales value of $326.6 million, compared with 2,985 homes with a sales value of $838.8 million a year ago.

Like other builders, Beazer has been focusing on generating cash, closing out the quarter with $584.3 million, up from $454.3 million a year earlier.

But the company warned it's ability to fully reap tax benefits from prior losses will be limited because of a change in the level of ownership by some shareholders as defined by a section of the tax code.

The builder, which last month announced it was analyzing the matter, said it determined such an ownership change took place as of Dec. 31, 2007. That will reduce its ability to carry forward prior-year losses and reduce its potential tax bill in the future.

Separately, Beazer expects to receive a cash tax refund of about $150 million in its next fiscal year.

For the full fiscal year, Beazer's loss widened to $951.9 million, or $24.69 per share. That compares with a loss of $411.1 million, or $10.70 per share, in fiscal 2007.

Total revenue for the year fell to $2.07 billion from $3.47 billion in the same period a year ago.