News (AP) - PulteGroup posts profit for 2nd quarter

BLOOMFIELD HILLS (AP) -- PulteGroup Inc. returned to a quarterly profit for the first time in more than three years, the nation's largest homebuilder said Wednesday, boosted by its acquisition of Centex Corp. and as Americans bought homes ahead of the expiration of federal tax credits.

Net income for the second-quarter ended June 30 totaled $76.3 million, or 20 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $189.5 million, or 74 cents a share, in the prior-year period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected the company to break even on a per share basis on revenue of $1.24 billion.

Results were helped by the company's acquisition of Centex, which closed in August 2009 and made the company the largest U.S. homebuilder. Prior-year results are not adjusted for the deal.

The quarterly results also include about $45 million in land and mortgage charges, plus an $82 million benefit from income taxes.

Revenue rose 92 percent to $1.31 billion from $678.6 million last year. Revenue benefited from the addition of Centex, which helped double closing volumes.

New home orders rose 25 percent from the prior year. Quarter-end backlog rose 44 percent to 5,644 homes.

CEO Richard J. Dugas Jr. said recent buyer demand has been "stable, albeit at very low levels," after the federal tax credit expired at the end of April.

"While reasonable to expect a modest seasonal pick up in the second half of 2010, long-term we believe that any significant housing recovery will require a stronger economy, higher employment and greater overall consumer confidence," he said.

High unemployment, slow job growth, and tight credit have kept people from buying homes. Sales of new U.S. homes jumped in June, but it was the second-weakest month on record.

The industry received a boost this spring when the government offered tax credits to homebuyers. But since they expired in April, the number of people looking to buy has dropped, even with the lowest mortgage rates in decades available.

On Tuesday, rival homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc. said it reversed a year-ago loss, helped by the federal tax credit, but new home orders fell 3 percent in the absence of government incentives.

Published: Thu, Aug 5, 2010


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