Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lennar Homes Cuts Jobs, Posts Q3 Loss. Realtors Report Lennar Cuts Commissions to $10,000 Flat

In late septeermb, Miami-based Lennar Corp. reported a third-quarter loss of more than $510 million dollars. Lennar said it had cut its work force by 35 percent and warned it expected further job cuts.

The nation's second-largest homebuilder said on Sept. 25 that its results swung to a net loss of $513.9 million, or $3.25 a share, for the three months ending Aug. 31 from a profit of $206.7 million, or $1.30 a share, a year ago. Revenues from home sales fell 44% -- mostly on a 41% drop in the number of home deliveries and a 6% decline in the average sales price of homes sold. Lennar had to suck it up financially to move a lower number of houses. Gross margins fell to 14.0% from 19.5% a year ago due to a $10,100 hike in sales incentives to $46,000 per home, which was responsible for the lower average sales price.

And sagging home sales weren't the only nightmare for Lennar. The Miami-based company took an $847.5 million pretax impairment charge to write down the value of its assets. That included a $344.7 million loss on land sales, of which $242.5 million was for write-offs of deposits and pre-acquisition costs related to 15,000 home sites under options that Lennar decided not to buy.

This was the biggest writeoff Lennar has taken since the housing slump began and added to the $1.05 billion in write-offs the company has taken since 2006, Banc of America Securities said in a research note (BAS does investment banking with Lennar.)

New orders deteriorated from a 31% year-over-year decline in the second quarter and were worse than the 22% drop that BAS had expected, probably due to more challenging market conditions overall and tough comparisons with the high sales volume Lennar maintained throughout 2006.

One Realtor said "I stopped taking buyers to Lennar Homes, they cut off commissions to realtors. $10,000 flat commission, as opposed to the 5% other builders were offering. Bad move."

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