Sunday, December 16, 2007

More Homebuilder Layoffs in Las Vegas - Toll Brothers and more

As Las Vegas homebuilders continue to slash prices and cut back on construction because of soft demand, companies are continuing to trim staff levels.

In the past four to six weeks, several builders have pared their staff once again in the latest round of layoffs that started about 14 months ago.

Beazer Homes cut its staff nationally by 25 percent and that reduction was felt in its Las Vegas offices. Pageantry Homes and Woodside Homes also made cuts, said Dennis Smith, president of Home Builders Research. Richmond American Homes, Astoria, Centex, KB Home, Pulte Homes, Celebrate, Rhodes, Ryland, Distinctive, Engle, Meritage and Lennar have also recently cut staff.
Monica Caruso, spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, said she has heard of more layoffs in recent weeks.

"We are still coming down from the boom, and the numbers are slow," Caruso said. "It's just a function of the lack of sales activity."

The number of home closings are down 44 percent for the year. Permits are down 25 percent.
Builders have been tight-lipped about the details of cutbacks in their offices.
Smith said some area developers, title companies and lenders have made cuts as well.
"I had someone tell me ... they were referring to today (Nov. 30) as Black Friday," Smith says of First American Title.

What gets overlooked, Smith said, is the job losses in related industries, such as concrete, associated with homebuilding. The one industry not affected is appraisers. They are swamped, Smith said.

Staffing cuts at Toll Bros.: A November issue of Big Builder magazine that was placed on inside billboards at a housing conference last week in Las Vegas featured Gary Mayo, the group president in Nevada for Toll Bros. He says that since January, his staff has dropped from 348 to 174, a 50 percent reduction in three rounds of layoffs.

The layoffs are in line with the company's home closings in 2007, which are down about 50 percent from the 368 closed in 2006. The company indicates 2008 may even be bleaker.
"We won't cut back on the sticks and bricks, and the land cost is what it is, so the only area I can look at is doing it with few but better people," Mayo said.
Unlike most companies, Mayo said that rather than trim mid- or upper-level managers with heftier compensation, he's kept people who have been with him for 10 to 12 years. That method saves less money, but the managers have to juggle more responsibility with the cutbacks, he said.
"Land acquisition is almost nonexistent, but we have shifted their focus into production housing to preserve them," Mayo said. "I have vice presidents all the way up to division managers who are out in the field again — now running one, two or three communities as well as maintaining what their day job was before. It breeds loyalty with these guys. They know that as long as they are willing to take a step back, we're willing to continue to hold on to them."
Mayo said Toll Bros. is in a different position than most public builders. It uses incentives but won't sell homes at any cost.

"I do need to generate enough cash flow to pay the bills, but I don't need to do it at a loss. So you're going to see us with much less market share than we have had over the last 12 months ? and we are ready for that. When things pick up, I will just need to hire some construction managers, and I'll be ready to go again."
In other news:

LaPour Corporate Center has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver core and shell precertification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The $19 million, three-story 70,000-square-foot office building was precertified based on its submission.
TWC Construction has started work on a project for Blackstone Capital Group. The Durango Centennial Retail Center is valued at $6.5 million for site improvements and the shell. It consists of four one-story buildings totaling 72,000 square feet and has underground parking at the corner of Durango Drive and Centennial Parkway. The project is slated to be finished in the third quarter of 2008. The Blackstone Retail Center on Fort Apache Road is scheduled to open in July.

Smith reports 51 apartment conversions closed escrow in October. That brings the year's total to 1,569, which is a year-to-year decrease of 3,410 units or 69 percent. Closings of conversion units have declined steadily in 2007 because of tightening mortgage credit, Smith said.

Title One Las Vegas, a title and escrow company, has made organization changes and additions designed to combat the slow residential market and service the commercial sector, it said. The company has named a new president, Norma Spaeth, and created private-client services, a new business unit under newly appointed Vice President Angelina Galindo. Guyon Long has also been appointed senior vice president/assistant county manager. Spaeth has previously worked as executive vice president for Equity Title of Nevada. Galindo previously served as vice president of special projects and a senior escrow officer with Chicago Title.

R/S Development has signed up to participate in the Green Building Partnership program of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association. R/S is building green homes in its Kingswood Crown Series in Summerlin at Interstate 215 and Charleston Boulevard and at the Alpian Meadows at Mountain's Edge. The company plans to build 182 homes. For more information, go to Model homes built by Pulte Homes in the Timbercreek subdivision in northwest Las Vegas are the first homes to achieve certification as green-built homes under the program. The model homes meet the program's requirements for resource, energy and water efficiency and indoor environmental air quality.

An 11-building multitenant office complex in Las Vegas has been purchased for $24.8 million by Koll/PER, a limited liability company owned by the Koll Co. of Newport Beach, Calif., and the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho. Koll Canyon Plaza, formerly called Trident Business Park, consists of 103,345 square feet of office and retail space on eight acres on the south side of Sahara Avenue, west of North Buffalo Drive. The seven-year-old office park was purchased from Trident Development, which was represented by Grubb & Ellis. Koll represented itself. It's the fourth Las Vegas area acquisition by the group in the last two years.
Gavin Maloof, co-owner of the Sacramento Kings and brother of Palms owner George Maloof, sold his 5,499-square-foot home on Innisbrook Avenue for $2.2 million. The buyer was the Douglas Unger Trust.

Arte Nathan, the retired human resources boss with Wynn Resorts, sold his 5,304-square-foot home on Grouse Street for $1.3 million. The buyer was Paragon Relocation Resources.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Don’t expect Beazer’s earnings until March 22nd
(at the earliest).

July 26 Beazer reported a (-3.20) loss for the previous quarter. They haven’t filed since.
I’ve called their investor contact person Lisa Kratcoski at 1-770-829-3700 several
times. In early November and December she assured me there were NO imminent plans
for any quarterly reports but that Beazer had to “restate earnings for several years”. She
wouldn’t even hint at a ‘ballpark month’ when those figures might be coming.

The reason that Beazer will not be forthcoming with those figures has nothing to do with accounting ineffientcies….they are not using abacuses and beans to calculate. Numbers are easy. They could have spit out the TOTALS eons ago unless…..unless they have something to hide.

When Hovanian gave their horrible numbers (-$7.42) on Dec 19th, they waited until people were putting on their pajamas and gulping Geratol…last one to report. Nearly half a billion down (-$467 million), $7.42 per share loss! In three months they lost over a 100 million more than their entire capitalization (stock holder value) even though Ara Hovnanian waved the magic wan over the results, and smiled.

When Novastar finally coughed up their quarter numbers on Nov 14th, the (-$44) per share sent them down to a buck, in January they had been $108.

Back to Beazer.
The longer a company waits to ‘put up’ numbers, the worst they are.
Beazer has been in the midst of ongoing investigations for fraud, deception, violations. cooking the books and sundry illegal activities. They have got the S.E.C., the U.S.Attorney General & investment groups… along with shareholders hard on their case.
Their title company was just sacked with huge fines. The litany of +crass and (criminal?)
conduct is long.

The CEO recently said they were trying to restore “their good reputation”. NO, that wasn’t a joke.

Multitudes have bet against Beazer. Thousands of puts, tens of thousands of ‘shorts’.
The way to get back at these grave dancers is to put off earnings results as long as possible.” I’LL SHOW THEM! ”. The stock doesn’t go to $1 - 2 until such a time….plus, “we continue to collect our salaries!”