Beazer Homes USA Inc. (BZH) skinnied their net loss in the latest quarter compared to the year earlier as an ever-recovering housing industry helped boost revenue, closings and backlog of orders. Although the U.S. economy is stagnating to a degree, the housing industry has provided a positive impact as consumers have been taking advantage of historically low interest rates that have made buying a home less expansive than renting in many areas.
For the fiscal second quarter ended March 31, Atlanta-based Beazer reported revenue of $287.9 million, up from $191.6 million in the year prior quarter. Net loss contracted to $19.64 million, or 80 cents per share, from a net loss of $39.95 million, or $2.54 per share, in fiscal Q2 2012.
Wall Street was anticipating a net loss of 75 cents per share on revenue of $252.2 million.
The 50 percent surge in revenue was aided by a 33.5 percent increase in home closings, from 844 in the 2012 quarter to 1,127 in the recent quarter. Backlog at the end of the quarter was 2,211 units worth about $584.2 million, up from 1,975 units with a sales value of $465.0 million last year. New home orders increased 0.6 percent to 1,521 in the second quarter, while the cancellation rate dropped from 22.5 percent last year to 18.7 percent in the latest quarter.
"I'm pleased with our solid operational and financial performance this quarter," said Allan Merrill, chief executive at Beazer. "Improvements in closings, average sales price and gross margins enabled us to generate $15 million in adjusted EBITDA, the highest amount for our fiscal second quarter since 2007. With a substantially higher backlog, improving margins and tight control of fixed costs, we expect to report positive net income for our fiscal fourth quarter, which should allow us to be profitable for the second half of fiscal 2013."
Average sales price increased from $224,700 last year to $253,300. Homebuilding gross profit rose to 15.2 percent from 10.3 percent. Adjusted EBITA was $15.2 million, versus a negative $1.0 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2012.
The quarter ended with Beazer having total cash and equivalents of $672.4 million, including unrestricted cash of about $425.7 million.
Beazer and other homebuilders have been benefiting from higher home prices and more sales. Earlier this week, the 20-city composite of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index showed that residential housing prices increased by 9.3 percent in February compared to the year earlier. It was the largest gain in nearly seven years.
On Monday, the National Association of Realtors reported that its seasonally adjusted index for pending home sales, contracts which have been signed, but not yet closed, rose 1.5 percent in March to 105.7. It is the highest reading for the index since April 2010 when a tax credit helped inflate sales.
Shares of Beazer were up about 8 percent in the last year, although essentially flat so far in 2013, with Wednesday’s closing price of $16.79. Shares are looking to rise in early Thursday action with the report topping revenue estimates, despite coming up short on earnings.
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