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It's Official: Homebuilding's Lost It

By David Smith – Updated Apr 5, 2017 at 5:20PM

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Centex's latest loss hit $643.8 million and rendered analysts' forecasts worthless.

The numbers for the homebuilders have become absurd. And what may be even more ridiculous is that Centex (NYSE:CTX), which reported yet another massive loss Tuesday, saw its share price increase by $1.10 on Monday -- the very day before the company's September quarterly results were released.

For the quarter, Centex posted a loss of $643.8 million, or $5.26 per share, compared with i-n-c-o-m-e (that's a Latin word meaning that a homebuilder has generated a profit) of $137.4 million, or $1.11, a year ago. Revenues were $2.22 billion in the most recent quarter, vs. $2.82 billion last year.

The September 2007 quarter included a charge of $983 million, or $4.97 a share for land impairments. And just to emphasize the asininity of the dart throwers (that's Latin for analysts) even proffering estimates in a whacky climate like homebuilding today, the throwers apparently had forecast a loss of $3.26 per share. Obviously, the numbers to the right of the decimal were spot on. But to the left of the dot, the prognostications were way off, which should result in the company's crew of guessers being dispatched to the showers.

If you look at Centex's homebuilding revenues, you'll note a region-by-region decline from 39% in the Southeast -- ah, Florida -- to a 4% reduction in Texas. As to home building operating earnings, Texas and the East actually made positive contributions, while all the other regions were firmly ensconced in negative territory.

It won't surprise Fools. As Centex indicated on Tuesday, this industry can't make cuts fast enough and is quite literally hanging on by its T-squares. As the week progresses, we'll have Meritage (NYSE:MTH), Ryland (NYSE:RYL), MDC (NYSE:MDC), and Pulte (NYSE:PHM) tell us about their September results. If you think any of those companies will render an even moderately positive story, I want to tell you about an East River bridge I have for sale.

So I'm forced to hearken back to that price appreciation Centex shares enjoyed on Monday. In the spirit of full disclosure, Fools, I must confess that I'm a former officer of the company (back in the Paleolithic era when mortgages were fixed instruments that generally fit the repayment capabilities of the borrower) and later followed the builders as a ranked dart thrower.

These days, I wouldn't put my worst enemy's shekels into homebuilding shares.

For related Foolishness:

Fool contributor David Lee Smith has a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage, but not a share of any of the companies mentioned above. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a brick house disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

PulteGroup, Inc. Stock Quote
PulteGroup, Inc.
PHM
$39.15 (0.62%) $0.24
M.D.C. Holdings, Inc. Stock Quote
M.D.C. Holdings, Inc.
MDC
$28.47 (1.72%) $0.48
Meritage Homes Corporation Stock Quote
Meritage Homes Corporation
MTH
$73.34 (1.64%) $1.18

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