Thursday, October 18, 2007

Homebuilder Layoffs - St. Joe Company Lays Off 80% of Its Staff

The St. Joe Company, Florida’s largest private landowner, which has been afflicted by the worst housing slump in 16 years, plans to eliminate more than 75 percent of its work force, sell about 100,000 acres of land and scrap its dividend.

The retrenchment includes cutting 760 jobs, selling 190 homes and about 1,200 developed home sites, St. Joe (formerly Arvida), based in Jacksonville, Fla., said yesterday. This quarter’s earnings will be reduced by a $30 million charge. The company will also have $7 million in severance costs this year and next.

St. Joe is shifting from building homes in Florida, where sales plummeted 41 percent in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors, to developing planned communities.

“This is not a fire sale,” the chief executive, Peter S. Rummell, said yesterday in a conference call. “We are not dumping stuff on the market and we are not going to make stupid decisions, but there are things that we believe have reached their height in pricing. I firmly believe that we would be doing this whether the market was good or bad.”
St. Joe shares fell 4 cents, to $34.11.

This is another example of a Florida builder that made huge mistakes. This company owns more land than the Florida govenment...miles and miles of beach. The locals in Florida's Panhandle, or as JOE wants to call it Florida's Great Northwest hates this company. They are developing pristine plats of preserve quality land. I think they are actually a pretty "green" builder. Anyways, this one is stunning...I don't care what Peter Rummell says. Laying off 80% of your staff IS a fire sale. I am stunned they didn't at least do it in phases where they didn't need to announce it.

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