Meritage Homes Corporation (MTH) recorded a loss of $4.8 million or 15 cents per share in the first quarter of 2012 compared with a loss of $6.7 million or 21 cents per share in the same quarter of 2011. The reported loss per share was significantly wider than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 5 cents per share.
Total closing revenue rose to $204.4 million on a total 759 homes closed in the quarter compared with $177.6 million on a total 678 homes closed in the first quarter of 2011. It missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $209.0 million. Net sales orders jumped 36% to 1,144 units from 840 units in the 2011-quarter.
Home closing revenue increased 15% to $204.1 million driven by a 12% increases in both closing volume and 3% increase in average prices.
Higher average prices in the quarter reflected a shift in geographic mix, with a greater portion of closings in California, Arizona, Colorado and Florida, where home prices are generally higher, and a smaller portion in Texas, where home prices are generally lower.
The Central region recorded the highest number of homes closing at 523 homes, with a total value of $131.9 million. It was followed by 133 home closures worth $37.7 million in the Eastern region. Western region reported closure of 103 homes worth $34.5 million during the quarter.
In the Central region, 803 homes were ordered worth $198.8 million, and were followed by 195 homes worth $64.1 million in the Western region. In Eastern region 146 homes worth $45.4 million were ordered during the quarter.
Home closing gross profit improved $35.1 million in the quarter from $30.4 million in the prior-year quarter, including $0.3 million impaired projects during the first quarter of 2012 and $0.7 million impaired projects in the prior-year quarter. Home closing gross margins remained more or less flat at 17.2% during the quarter compared with 17.1% in the previous-year quarter.
Meritage had cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, investment and securities of $90.6 million as of March 31, 2012 compared with $173.6 million as of December 31, 2011.
Net debt stood at $329.8 million as of March 31, 2012 versus $218.2 million as of March 31, 2011. Net debt to total capital ratio was 40.4% as of March 31, 2012 compared with 30.5% as of March 31, 2011.
Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Meritage Homes Corporation, has a Zacks #3 Rank (short-term Hold rating) with a long-term Neutral recommendation. Meritage builds single-family homes for a broad range of homebuyers.
The company also provides residential financial services including mortgage origination services for its homebuyers. Meritage’s key competitors include Lennar Corp. (LEN), KB Home (KBH) and DR Horton Inc. (DHI).
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