Toll Bros. loses $96M in first quarter

Any turnaround for the nation's home builders will have to wait another quarter. Toll Bros. Inc. became the latest to post negative financial results.

Toll Bros. lost $96 million, or 61 cents a share, during its first quarter ended Jan. 31. The quarter included pre-tax writedowns totaling $245.5 million.

How does that compare to last year's first quarter? The Horsham home builder posted net income of $54.3 million, or 33 cents per share.

Revenues were also lower. First-quarter 2008 revenues were $842.9 million, down from the $1.07 billion reported for the same period last year.

And even though Toll Bros. is a luxury home builder, it too has been seeing an erosion in home prices. The company notes that the average price per unit of gross contracts signed in the quarter was $634,000 compared with $646,000 in the fourth quarter and $730,000 in the first quarter of 2007.

Think psychology has no place in the selling of anything? Chairman and CEO Robert I. Toll had this to say about the current market:

Ceaseless talk of a recession continues to dampen the mood of consumers in general, whether or not a recession actually occurs. For home buyers, we believe this drumbeat, coupled with concerns over mortgages, the direction of home prices, and foreclosures, has kept pent-up demand on the sidelines.

Full disclosure: Robert Toll's brother, Bruce E. Toll, is a major investor in Philadelphia Media Holdings L.L.C., which owns The Inquirer, Daily News and philly.com.

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