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Beazer Homes takes a wintery 2Q blast, falls short

ATLANTA (AP) -- Beazer Homes posted a larger-than expected loss for the second quarter as abysmal winter weather took its toll on new home orders and closings.

The loss narrowed, however, compared with the same period last year, as the builder took smaller losses paying down debt and cut expenses.

And CEO Allan Merrill said the company is confident that Beazer will be profitable this year as the company accomplishes its financial objectives.

The Atlanta homebuilder lost $8 million, or 31 cents per share, for the three months ended March 31. That compares with a loss of $19.6 million, or 80 cents per share, a year ago, but it was still worse than the loss of 20 cents that Wall Street had projected.

Loss on debt extinguishment totaled $153,000, down from $3.6 million a year earlier. Other expenses fell to $13.7 million from $16.2 million.

Revenue declined 6 percent to $270 million from $287.9 million. That also fell short of projections from industry analysts, who were looking for something closer to $291.7 million, according to a poll by FactSet.

New home orders dropped 8.6 percent to 1,390 homes from 1,521 homes. Closings, or completed home sales, fell 13.3 percent to 977 homes from 1,127 homes in the prior-year period.

Beazer Homes USA Inc. preannounced in April that its new home orders and closings were down for the quarter. However, the company has also operating in 6 percent fewer communities, which also affected sales.

Higher mortgage rates, rising prices and a limited supply of homes have slowed sales across the country. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported that home price gains cooled in February from the previous year for the third month in a row.

However, the National Association of Realtors reported a day earlier that more Americans signed contracts to buy homes in March, the first increase since June and a sign that the housing market might pick up after a sluggish start to the year.

Most economists agree.