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Edited Transcript of DHI earnings conference call or presentation 20-Apr-17 2:00pm GMT

Thomson Reuters StreetEvents

Q2 2017 D.R. Horton Inc Earnings Call

FORT WORTH Apr 22, 2017 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of D.R. Horton Inc earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, April 20, 2017 at 2:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Bill W. Wheat

D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP

* David V. Auld

D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President

* Jessica Hansen

D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications

* Michael J. Murray

D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP

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Conference Call Participants

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* Alan S. Ratner

Zelman & Associates LLC - Director

* Buck Horne

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - SVP, Equity Research

* Carl Edwin Reichardt

BTIG, LLC, Research Division - MD

* Jack Micenko

Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Deputy Director of Research

* John Lovallo

BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - VP

* Kenneth Robinson Zener

KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Equity Research Analyst

* Michael Glaser Dahl

Barclays PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Michael Jason Rehaut

JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst

* Nishu Sood

Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Director

* Robert C. Wetenhall

RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst

* Robert Grimsley Hansen

Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - VP

* Stephen Kim

Evercore ISI, Research Division - Senior MD, Head of Housing Research Team and Fundamental Research Analyst

* Stephen F. East

Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Analyst

* Will Randow

Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Good morning, and welcome to the Second Quarter 2017 Earnings Conference Call of D.R. Horton, America’s Builder and the largest builder in the United States. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the conference over to your host, Jessica Hansen, Vice President of Investor Relations. Thank you, Miss Hansen. You may begin.

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [2]

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Thank you, Doug, and good morning. Welcome to our call to discuss our results for the second quarter of fiscal 2017. Before we get started, today's call may include comments that constitute forward-looking statements as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although D.R. Horton believes any such statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that actual outcomes will not be materially different. All forward-looking statements are based upon information available to D.R. Horton on the date of this conference call, and D.R. Horton does not undertake any obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements. Additional information about issues that could lead to material changes in performance is contained in D.R. Horton's annual report on Form 10-K, which is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This morning's earnings release can be found on our website at investor.drhorton.com and we plan to file our 10-Q next week. After the conclusion of the call, we will post updated supplementary data to our Investor Relations site on the Presentations section under News and Events for your reference. The supplementary information includes current and historical supporting data on our homebuilding return on inventory, home sales gross margin, changes in active selling communities, product mix and our mortgage operations.

Now I will turn the call over to David Auld, our President and CEO.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [3]

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Thank you, Jessica, and good morning. In addition to Jessica, I am pleased to be joined on this call by Mike Murray, our Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; and Bill Wheat, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

The D.R. Horton team produced solid second quarter results. Our consolidated pretax income increased 18% to $354 million on a 17% revenue increase to $3.3 billion. Our pretax profit margin was stable at 10.9%. We experienced a 16% improvement in our absorption per community as homes sold increased 14% as compared to last year. These results reflect the strength of our operational teams and diverse product offerings across our broad national footprint as well as a strong spring selling season.

Our continued strategic focus is to produce double-digit annual growth in both revenues and pretax profits while generating annual positive operating cash flows and increasing returns. For the trailing 12 months, our homebuilding return on inventory improved to 16%, up 220 basis points from 13.8% a year ago. We still expect to generate $300 million to $500 million of positive cash flow from operations in 2017. With 27,100 homes in inventory at the end of March and 227,000 lots owned and controlled, we are well-positioned for the remainder of 2017 and for future growth. Mike?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [4]

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Net income for the second quarter increased 17% to $229 million or $0.60 per diluted share compared to $195 million or $0.52 per diluted share in the prior year quarter. Our consolidated pretax income increased 18% to $354 million in the second quarter versus $301 million a year ago. And homebuilding pretax income increased 14% to $322 million compared to $282 million. Our backlog conversion rate for the second quarter was 94%, above the high end of the range we guided to on our first quarter call. As a result, our second quarter home sales revenues increased 18% to $3.2 billion on 10,685 homes closed, up from $2.7 billion on 9,262 homes closed in the prior-year quarter. Our average closing price for the quarter was $295,600, up 2% compared to last year.

This quarter, entry-level homes marketed under our Express Homes brand, accounted for 29% of homes closed and 22% of home sales revenue. Our homes for higher end, move up and luxury buyers priced greater than $500,000 were 7% of homes closed and 17% of home sales revenue.

Our active adult Freedom Homes brand is currently being offered in 10 markets across 8 states. Customer response to these affordable homes in communities offering a low-maintenance lifestyle has been positive. Bill?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [5]

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The value of our net sales orders in the second quarter increased 17% from the prior year quarter to $4.2 billion, and homes sold increased 14% to 13,991 homes. Our average number of active selling communities was 2% lower than the prior year quarter but increased 2% sequentially from our first quarter. Our average sales price on net sales orders in the second quarter was $299,400, and the cancellation rate for the second quarter was 20%, consistent with the prior year quarter. The value of our backlog increased 9% from a year ago to $4.4 billion, with an average sales price per home of $303,400. And homes in backlog increased 7% to 14,618 homes. Mike?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [6]

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Our gross profit margin on home sales revenue in the second quarter was 19.8%, consistent with our expectations and our first quarter. In the current housing market, we continue to expect our average home sales gross margin to be around 20%, with quarterly fluctuations that may range from 19% to 21% due to product and geographic mix as well as the relative impact of warranty, litigation and interest cost. Bill?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [7]

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In the second quarter, homebuilding SG&A expense as a percentage of revenues improved 20 basis points from the prior-year quarter to 9.3% at the low end of our guidance range. For the 6 months ended March 31, homebuilding SG&A was 9.4%, an improvement of 50 basis points compared to the same period last year. We remain focused on controlling our SG&A while ensuring that our infrastructure adequately supports current and future growth. Jessica?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [8]

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Financial services' pretax income in the second quarter increased to $31.5 million from $18.6 million in the prior year quarter, driven by growth in revenue and an improved operating margin. 96% of our mortgage company's loan originations during the quarter related to homes closed by our homebuilding operation. Our mortgage company handled the financing for 57% of our home buyers, up from 53% in the same quarter last year. FHA and VA loans accounted for 47% of the mortgage company's volume. Borrowers originating loans with our mortgage company this quarter had an average FICO score of 720 and an average loan to valuation of 89%. First time homebuyers represented 46% of the closings handled by our mortgage company, consistent with the prior-year quarter. David?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [9]

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During the quarter, our total number of homes in inventory increased by 11% as we prepared for higher closing volumes in the third and fourth quarters. We ended the second quarter with 27,100 homes in inventory, 13,200 of our total homes were unsold and 9,700 in various stages of construction and 3,500 completed. Compared to a year ago, we had 10% more homes in inventory, putting us in a strong position for the remainder of the year. Our second quarter investment in lots, land and development totaled $814 million, of which $512 million were for finished lots and land and $302 million was for land development. During the first half of 2017, we invested $1.7 billion in lots, land and development compared to $1.1 billion in the first half of last year. Our underwriting criteria and operational expectations for each new community remain consistent at a minimum 20% annual net return on inventory and a return of our initial cash investment within 24 months. We plan to continue to invest in the land and lots at a rate to support our expected growth in revenues. Mike?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [10]

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At March 31, our land and lot portfolio consisted of 227,000 lots, of which 118,000 or 52% are owned and 109,000 or 48% are controlled through option contracts. 77,000 of our total lots are finished, of which 30,000 are owned and 47,000 are optioned. Our optioned lot position increased 42% from a year ago, in line with our focus on developing strong relationships with land developers across our national footprint. Our 227,000 total lot portfolio is a strong, competitive advantage in the current housing market and a sufficient lot supply to support future growth. Bill?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [11]

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At March 31, our homebuilding liquidity included $948 million of unrestricted homebuilding cash and $900 million of available capacity on our revolving credit facility. Our homebuilding leverage ratio improved 560 basis points from a year ago to 28%. The balance of our public notes outstanding at the end of the quarter was $2.8 billion. At March 31, our shareholders equity was $7.2 billion and book value per share was $19.23, up 14% from a year ago.

Our balanced capital approach is centered on being flexible, opportunistic and disciplined. Our top cash flow priorities for fiscal 2017 include continuing to consolidate market share by both investing in our homebuilding business and through strategic acquisitions, paying off $350 million of our senior notes at maturity in May and providing consistent dividends which are expected to total $150 million this year.

Our balance sheet strength, liquidity and continued earnings and cash flow generation are increasing our flexibility. And we plan to maintain our disciplined opportunistic position to improve the long-term value of our company. Jessica?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [12]

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We are updating our expectations for fiscal 2017 based on current housing market conditions and our financial performance to date this year. As we noted in our press release this morning, we are updating our annual guidance as follows. We are increasing the range of our consolidated revenues to between $13.6 billion and $14 billion and are increasing the range of homes closed to 44,500 and 46,000 homes. We now expect homebuilding SG&A for the full year in a range of 8.8% to 9.1% of homebuilding revenues and are increasing our guidance for our financial services pretax operating margins to approximately 35%. We currently forecast an income tax rate of 35.5%.

Also as outlined in our press release this morning, we are reaffirming our previously-issued guidance for fiscal 2017, including a consolidated pretax profit margin of 11.2% to 11.5%, a homes sold gross margin for the full year 2017 around 20%, an annual diluted share count of approximately 380 million shares and $300 million to $500 million of positive cash flow from operations for fiscal 2017.

Specifically for the third quarter of fiscal 2017, we expect our number of homes closed will approximate a beginning backlog conversion rate in the range of 81% to 84%. We anticipate our third quarter home sales gross margin will be around 20% and we expect our homebuilding SG&A in the third quarter to be in the range of 8.6% to 8.8% of homebuilding revenues. David?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [13]

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In closing, our second quarter growth in sales, closings and profits is a result of the strength of our people and operating platform. We are striving to be the leading builder in each of our markets and to continue to expand our industry-leading market share. We remain focused on growing both our revenue and pretax profits at a double-digit annual pace while continuing to generate annual positive operating cash flows and improved returns. We are well-positioned to do so with our solid balance sheet, industry-leading market share, broad geographic footprint, diversified product offerings across our D.R. Horton, Emerald, Express and Freedom brands, attractive finished lot and land position, and most importantly, our outstanding team across the country. We'd like to thank the entire D.R. Horton team for their continued focus and hard work. And we look forward to continuing to grow and improve our operations together.

This concludes the prepared remarks. We will now host questions.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of Alan Ratner from Zelman & Associates.

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Alan S. Ratner, Zelman & Associates LLC - Director [2]

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My question -- my first question, if I could, just thinking about the pricing environment and costs, you raised the revenue guidance, held the gross margin guidance. And we've heard from some other builders lately that pricing power seems to be reemerging, especially at the entry level. But at the same time, there's obviously some uncertainty on the cost side. Lumber is probably the biggest unknown just given the potential tariffs coming down the pike here. So I'm curious as you look at the full year gross margin, and I guess just a little bit longer term, how you're thinking about those 2 offsetting factors. And I guess just as a company as a whole, if you could just give a little bit of insight into how you purchase lumber and if you're doing anything differently to potentially combat the rising costs?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [3]

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Good morning, Alan, this is Mike. Thank you for the question. We are seeing some pricing power in the communities where we have achieved the absorption pace. We've underwrote those communities, too, and so that's been very helpful in maintaining our gross margin. At the same time, with our cost structure going forward, we're seeing an efficient building process yielding savings in our vertical construction costs, and so we've been able to offset some of the lot cost increases we've been seeing come through to protect the margins. Looking forward, with regard to our cost structure, our guys are working very hard every day, we're working very hard with our national supplier partners, to protect that cost structure. I can't tell you we're doing anything radically different on buying lumber. It's something we look at market by market, looking at the commodity market and trying to lock in pricing when we feel it's a good time, again, market by market in lumber.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [4]

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And I'll just add, that the supply/demand equation is, I think, allowing us to offset the costs that we've seen that vary commodity by commodity. So when land goes up, price of the house goes up, it ultimately comes down to positioning and efficiency and we get up every day working on those 2 things.

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [5]

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So we do feel very confident about our forward margin guidance, that it's going to remain consistent as it has for the past few years.

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Alan S. Ratner, Zelman & Associates LLC - Director [6]

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Got it, I appreciate that. And on the cost side, I might have missed it, but do you have, however you look at it, price per square foot, what your material and labor costs are on a year-over-year basis? And just curious, within the lumber component specifically, have you already seen that inflation hit your P&L? Or with the price increases, is that going to be more on a go forward basis?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [7]

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Sure, Alan, this is Jessica. Year-over-year, we saw our revenues per square foot up 3% and our stick and brick costs were only up 1%. What was offsetting that was we do continue to see slightly higher land prices flowing through our P&L on a per square foot basis. And sequentially, our revenues per square foot in our stick and brick was really right in line. They were both up just a very low single-digit percentage. In terms of lumber specifically, we haven't seen any noticeable impact from lumber. Generally, when I talk to our purchasing team, they say whatever that market price is doing, we're generally taking some lesser price increase when we're out there locking in our prices for our backlog and our homes under construction.

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Operator [8]

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Our next question comes from the line of Carla Reichardt from BTIG.

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Carl Edwin Reichardt, BTIG, LLC, Research Division - MD [9]

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I wanted to ask about community count. I know we've talked about it being flat to a little bit down for the balance of the year. When do you guys think it's likely to inflect and begin to track up as you look forward?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [10]

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Carl, this is Bill again. As we've talked about it, we have visibility to exactly where the community count is pretty good for a quarter or 2. But beyond that, it gets a little bit murky just given the timing of when communities roll off. So as we look the next couple of quarters, we continue to believe we're going to stay relatively stable, plus or minus flat within a couple of percentage points. But we do believe that over the long term, as we get into '18 and beyond, as we continue to expect to grow at a 10% to 15% pace on the top line, that, that will require some community count growth. And so as we make those investments to prepare for that growth, we would expect to -- as we get into '18, for our community counts to start to rise at a modest pace. We still expect to continue to improve our absorptions and are very focused community by community on executing as well as we can to continue to drive some of our growth through absorption improvement as well.

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Carl Edwin Reichardt, BTIG, LLC, Research Division - MD [11]

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Okay. And then if I can ask about Freedom and the rollout. When we've gone in and looked at the product, I'm curious about whether or not you are concerned about cannibalization of the Express product. We've talked about Express, one of the reasons it's been successful is because you saw a larger percentage of customers in that product who were effectively move-down buyers. And so I think the thinking is well, if you're opening Freedom near Express, you may see some level of cannibalization. So how do you think about and balance that? And has there been any impact to Express absorptions because of nearby Freedom product?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [12]

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Carl, this is David. We haven't seen any negative impact to Express. The concept of Freedom is to capture and expand the offering to include the people that just don't want to live next door to a 2-story with a bunch of kids. And those buyers are out there. So it's -- we're trying to set these communities up as kind of a lock and leave opportunity, something that they don't have to be there every day to maintain. And that was a buyer segment that, to be honest with you, we were not actively pursuing at the level we are now. But we think it's a huge opportunity for the company. And a little more difficult to roll out than Express because it is a specific type of community that we're launching Freedom in. You can't just go build it on a lot. But no, from my perception and what I'm hearing from our people, Freedom is not going to cannibalize. It's going to augment, and I think support Express.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [13]

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Yes, and Carl...

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Carl Edwin Reichardt, BTIG, LLC, Research Division - MD [14]

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Sorry, Bill, go ahead.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [15]

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Yes, and just as we look, it's very early. But when we look at average price points on Freedom versus Express today, they're running at about 10% to 15% higher. So there's a little bit of extra cost for those homebuyers. Still affordable, but certainly a step above Express. And there is an element of an HOA fee to cover the maintenance and those aspects of the community that are non-Express as well. So little bit of a differentiation from an economic standpoint.

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Operator [16]

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Our next question comes from the line of Stephen East with Wells Fargo.

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Stephen F. East, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Analyst [17]

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Your guidance for revenue for the full year suggests you're slowing down in the second half. And your backlog today, your growth in your backlog today is not a whole lot different than your growth in the fourth quarter of last year. So I'm trying to understand, is it just conservatism? Are you all seeing something out there that will take longer to deliver on the homes? What's driving that reduced growth rate in the second half?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [18]

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Well, Stephen, as you know, we got off to a really good start at the start of the year, and the spring helps drive where we're going to be for the end of the year. We are raising our guidance for the year to a higher annual growth rate. And as we get a little bit closer, if we see that we need to raise it a bit more, we certainly will do that. But I wouldn't try to imply necessarily anything as far as a moderating growth rate at all. We're right in line, right in the range of what we've been investing for and planning for the year.

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Stephen F. East, Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division - Senior Analyst [19]

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Okay, I appreciate that. And then, you talked about your allocation, your capital allocation, which I appreciate. You talked about M&A, sort of a couple-part question here. One, you talked about M&A. There are a lot of nontraditional buyers out there right now. And I'm wondering, is it disrupting the market? You don't have the strategic buyers we're not seeing be that active, and just wondering why the strategic buyers aren't as active. Are the nontraditional guys pushing pricing too far, et cetera and just how you all are thinking about it. And then note no conversation of share repurchase in your capital allocation. And while I'm not a huge repo guy, when I look at the impact it can have on your returns, your ROEs, it can make a big difference. So just your thoughts there.

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [20]

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Stephen, this is Mike. On the M&A question, we are continuing to be very active and looking at a lot of opportunities. And the most important things for us are finding a good home builder, a good operation that fits with us culturally and lot-wise. And equally as important is a reasonable seller and reasonable seller expectations. And there have been -- there has been a little bit of dislocation in that, but I would say that seems to have died down a bit and we might see the bid/ask spread in there a little bit coming -- going forward.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [21]

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Stephen, this is Bill. I'll answer the rest of the question. And in terms of our overall allocations, acquisitions are part of that, but we are going to remain disciplined. And so we're going to -- we certainly have the room to make a large investment there if we found the right deal that fits our return strategy. In terms of share repurchase, we have an outstanding authorization from our board of $100 million which we have not used as of yet. And when we talk about our top priorities, our most significant priority for this year, we've laid those out. But that is something, and we've talked about this previously that as we look further and as we generate cash flow for our third consecutive year, over the longer term, we would expect there to be some level of share repurchase in our overall allocation. But as of yet, we have not purchased any shares back.

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Operator [22]

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Our next question comes from the line of Nishu Sood from Deutsche Bank.

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Nishu Sood, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Director [23]

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So this focus on absorption growth versus raw community comp growth, obviously been -- you've been successful with that. This trend, I guess, dates back probably about 2 years or so. Current pace puts you at about 46,000, 47,000 orders for fiscal '17. How much upside is there as you think about getting all of your communities to their optimal absorption rate? I mean, does that take us to 55,000, 60,000 on the current footprint? And I understand you mentioned community counts might begin to rise again in '18. Just trying to think about how much upside there is left on this absorption push?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [24]

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Nishu, we're just focused every day, every community getting incrementally a little bit better. If you'd ask us 3 years ago, if we'd be exactly where we were today, I'm not sure what our answer would've been because we're just trying to get better every day. And -- but what I'll tell you is that as our operators in the field and our division presidents are out there working hard every day, they're finding ways to get better every day. And so we do believe there's continued upside, there's continued opportunities to continue to get better. We've got certain markets that can get significantly better. We've got others that may be getting closer to that potential. We're going to keep trying to work to improve it, and we do believe that in this year and into next year, we will continue to find ways to improve our absorptions. Exactly what that full potential is, what the ceiling is, I'm not sure there is ever a ceiling. We're just going to keep working to get better.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [25]

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Nishu, it's never going to be good enough with our Chairman as active a shareholder we have here. So we're just going to keep growing.

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Nishu Sood, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - Director [26]

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Got it, got it. Okay, so it sounds like still some runway left there. The Southwest division had some pretty good looking metrics this quarter in terms of the orders and the pricing, et cetera. Can you dig down into that? Obviously, the closings were up nicely as well. Can you just dig down into that and walk us through the drivers of that, please?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [27]

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Go ahead, Mike.

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [28]

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Oh, sorry. The -- thank you for noticing. The Southwest market had been a little bit of a smaller area for us and we have been repositioning that group, making some investments and opportunities in Phoenix, primarily. And that team has done a great job of taking advantage of those opportunities in a market that's kind of been rebounding a bit. So very happy with the positioning that our team has done and their execution against that position. And so that's really simply is what it is right there.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [29]

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Nishu, we spend a lot of time talking about people, people, people. We've got an operational focus and a leader in that division today that we can support with capital. And she is doing a tremendous job of turning that into growth and profitability. So kudos, kudos for her.

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Operator [30]

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Our next question comes from the line of Ken Zener from KeyBanc.

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Kenneth Robinson Zener, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Equity Research Analyst [31]

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I'm thinking Toy Story, infinity and beyond for your order pace.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [32]

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Absolutely, Ken.

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Kenneth Robinson Zener, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Equity Research Analyst [33]

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Yes, so looking at some operational metrics, your orders were basically seasonal in 2Q. That's quarter-over-quarter pace. I know you guys did very well in 1Q, so it's good you maintained that. But when I think about your guidance, which is related to closings, I think about homes that are totally built, which includes all your specs, so your units under construction. Your guidance went from, I think, 8% to 13% to like 10% to 14% for year-over-year now, and it's up a little bit. But your units under construction was 14% growth in 1Q. Now, we're down to 10%. Can you talk about the decisions that are being made to have that lower growth? Was it warmer weather that enabled you to put more units in the ground and you're really targeting 10%? Because the delta shows that you're decelerating your units under construction, which obviously build up into your closings. So can you kind of talk about that actual capital allocation if we use units under construction year-over-year as the indicator for your forward best speedometer?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [34]

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Sure, Ken. We talked quite a bit about the fact that we were starting this year much stronger in position back in October 1 and then January 1 with our units under construction to prepare ourselves for the spring. And so we had a stronger year-over-year comparison in those first couple of quarters. I wouldn't say that we're decelerating at all or versus our expectations there. We just simply got an earlier start. And so now we're into a good mode of just replacing homes and maintaining them at a level that we believe will support the growth that we're expecting and position us -- start to position ourselves then for next year as well. So wouldn't read too much into just this quarter end positioning on a year-over-year basis. We're in a good position with our homes in construction.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [35]

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This is David...

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Robert Grimsley Hansen, Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division - VP [36]

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Oh, go ahead, David.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [37]

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We are focused on a community-by-community process and market shifts and starts and planned targeted closings. We're trying to be disciplined. We're trying to be smart. And we're trying to maximize every flag. So again, we set annual targets. We operate quarter-to-quarter. And we adjust. But don't read anything negative into that number.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [38]

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And as you look at -- as our community -- once we start to get back to close to flat year-over-year and then rising into '17, obviously, there's some homes that go along with those flags as well that I would expect to be coming into the picture as well.

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Kenneth Robinson Zener, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Equity Research Analyst [39]

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Yes. And it wasn't set up as a derogatory comment. It's just that I think people misunderstand that number or don't apply it enough. And as you start moving into, right, from 2Q to 3Q to 4Q, 4Q is actually just multiply that number x2, and that's usually your forward volume. So I'm just trying to think about not only the execution that you're doing this year, but how you're setting up conceptually '18, right, from your capital allocation as we think about that. And it seems as though...

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [40]

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I can tell you...

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Kenneth Robinson Zener, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Director and Equity Research Analyst [41]

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Labor is not an issue here. Closings as a percent of units under construction is exactly what it was last year. Obviously, labor's not an issue for you. So it's just determining how many units you want to have in for spec, so...

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [42]

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As we make our way forward, we're very focused on '18 and '19, to be honest with you.

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Operator [43]

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Our next question comes from the line of Bob Wetenhall from RBC Capital Markets.

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Robert C. Wetenhall, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [44]

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Just wanted to understand your gross margin target a little bit better. It looks like you're increasing your financial services operating margin by a pretty healthy amount. But at the same time, you're reiterating your full year gross margin guidance. And I just want to understand kind of what the offset was, because it sounds like cost pressures are actually rather benign. Could you help us think through that a little bit?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [45]

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Sure, Ken -- Bob, sorry, this is Mike. What we have is financial services are not a component of our gross margin. That's down in our other area -- operating margin. It's part of operating margin overall. But we're seeing gross margin to be consistent with where it's been. Financial services is improving a bit, and we'll probably get some more SG&A leverage in the second half of the year.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [46]

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And we'll provide...

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Robert C. Wetenhall, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [47]

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Right. Right. So with that -- sorry, I misspoke. I meant to say, you reiterated your full year operating margin for the company of 11.2% to 11.5%. It seems like you got a very positive trend there on the financial services side with a consistent gross margin, so you're also getting the SG&A leverage. So I was just trying to understand, at some point, does operating margin inflect higher just because of what's going on?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [48]

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It will depend on what happens with gross margin in the back half of the year. But if you look at the first 6 months of the year, we're only running 19.8%. So our margin balance was a little loose (inaudible) 20%. (inaudible) talk a lot about 19% to 21% as the broader range. So as we move into Q3 and Q4 and we do see that margin tick up over 20%, that could allow us to have some upside or at least hit the high end of our operating margin guidance. But because we're only running 19.8% for the 6 month -- first 6 months of the year, we don't feel like it makes sense to move that operating margin range up from where it is today.

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Robert C. Wetenhall, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [49]

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That makes perfect sense. And that's very helpful. And also, too, just a follow-up question, if I may. What should we expect about the conversion rate going forward, the backlog? Do you think it will just be consistent with last year, or do you expect any change to the pace?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [50]

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We're focused on improving that on a year-over-year basis, so we are projecting a lower conversion rate sequentially, but that's a typical seasonality for us. But in terms of the year-over-year, we would hope to see some improvement although, let's see.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [51]

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(inaudible)

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [52]

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Yes, we guided to 81% to 84%, and that compares to last year's third quarter conversion rate of 78%.

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Robert C. Wetenhall, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [53]

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Very impressive.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [54]

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Just trying to get better every day, Bob.

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Robert C. Wetenhall, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [55]

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Sounds good. Good progress.

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Operator [56]

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Our next question comes from the line of Stephen Kim from Evercore.

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Stephen Kim, Evercore ISI, Research Division - Senior MD, Head of Housing Research Team and Fundamental Research Analyst [57]

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I wanted to ask a question, if I could, about the difference in the way you approach implementing price increases in communities which are perhaps lower price points, maybe more volume-oriented versus more of your [ semi ] customer or move-up product. In general, we're hearing that there's strength across the board, but probably more concentrated at the lower end, lower price points. And I was curious if you could give us a sense for, if your strategy or the pace of implementation on price increases varies or is different when the strength you see is more in the -- those lower-priced communities?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [58]

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Stephen, we try to be consistent in our operation and absorption in these communities. So based upon the season and timing within the year. But the best practice we found is small, incremental based on the number of units that are being sold. So if it's a 300 lot community and we want to sell 10 a month, then we would have a nominal increase every 10 houses. So if there is a consistency to the pricing, there's a set urgency to get people off the fence. And they buy now or they pay a little more next month. So -- and that's proven to be very effective. It not only creates urgency but it improves margin.

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Stephen Kim, Evercore ISI, Research Division - Senior MD, Head of Housing Research Team and Fundamental Research Analyst [59]

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Got it, that's helpful. And then the second question I had relates to kind of a more general question. I think one of the things that we're seeing that's really fascinating about the industry and the stocks right now is this sort of blend between things that are early cycle and later cycle, the valuations that we're seeing in the group, the level of margin, the labor constraints you're running into it and rate of land spend as a percentage of revenue. Those are all things that are more characteristic of later cycle. And yet, we -- I should say, not the multiple, the valuations are actually more early cycle. But we're also seeing that a growing share at the entry level and the overall level of housing starts are very early cycle. So you've got some aspects to the market that are kind of early cycle-ish, and then you have some aspects that seem like they're more later cycle-ish. And I was curious as to, as you look at where we are right now and you try to assess your strategy over the course of the next few years, let's say, where do you think we are in the housing cycle? And which of these various metrics or things to look at do you think are the best gauge for determining where we are and what the right approach for your company should be from a cyclical perspective?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [60]

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Stephen, we operate subdivision by subdivision and job growth within submarkets. And I can tell you, we have sub markets that are very early cycle, and then we have others where they're -- they feel more mature. It doesn't get a sense that it's a -- and I'm sure, at some point, there will be some disruptions and things may change. But right now, in the markets that are producing at the top for us, there is more demand and less options or inventory out there than at any point that I have been in this business. So -- and I think you get too focused -- I think, sometimes, we can get too focused on trying to judge a cycle and miss tremendous opportunity. And so we're adjusting quarter-to-quarter and supporting the divisions that are improving returns. Mike?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [61]

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Stephen, I think you touched on it, not just geography, as David mentioned, and individual submarkets, but within markets, different customer segments have been coming into the housing equation at different times. I think coming out of the last downturn, we saw more of the move up buyers' pent-up demand being satisfied in that rush, and now, I think we're seeing more the entry-level first-time buyers coming into the marketplace now that there's some supply out there that is attainable for those folks. So we're, as David said, community by community being responsive to what we see in the market in front of us. And rather than looking at broad trends, we're focusing at a very micro level with our capital.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [62]

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Stephen, we made a decision to push into the entry-level opportunities that we see out in California. And I can tell you, that certainly isn't late cycle because those opportunities haven't existed for the buyers out there. And Don Horton traveled the west region over the last 30 days, and he's not an exuberant-type guy. But he came back feeling better about what he saw in the West, and specifically, the opportunities in California, than I have seen him in a long, long time. And I traveled Texas, Louisiana and Arizona in the last couple of months, and I can tell you, I think I said 2 or 3 years ago, Dallas was the best housing market I have ever seen. Still an incredibly strong market. But we're seeing strength in Houston and opportunity in Houston that the compressed oil industry headcount had put on hold. Austin's red hot. Phoenix is -- we are opening a price point at Phoenix that didn't exist. So to say that Phoenix is at some point in a cycle, I'd tell you, from an affordable housing standpoint, it is at the very front end of the cycle. So it is just market by market, and where people want to live and where there's no houses, we found the ability to sell houses. So...

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Stephen Kim, Evercore ISI, Research Division - Senior MD, Head of Housing Research Team and Fundamental Research Analyst [63]

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Well, for a company that doesn't focus on the cycle, you guys have certainly been doing a lot of things that look pretty prescient from a cyclical perspective, I have to say, over the last several years. Just to put a fine point, or to make sure I understood what you said, you don't manage as -- to a cycle per se. But you don't mean to suggest that when we go into the next down cycle or downturn in the economy, that you think that the markets across the country will -- some markets will be completely immune to that, do you? I mean, the market going to ...

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [64]

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No, no, no. I was around in '08, '09 and '10. We're not immune to market.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [65]

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Not at all. But the only way to respond -- you can't respond at a global level effectively. You still have to respond on the ground, in a subdivision, what's the right decision day-to-day, and operating that community and what's going on around it. And that's the way our operation's set up. That's what our -- all of our operators in the field are focused on every single day.

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [66]

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And over the backdrop of the past several years, the balance sheet strength we have garnered is going to give us greater visibility through whatever the next cycle holds or the next stages of the cycle, to make those best decisions, community by community.

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Operator [67]

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Our next question comes from the line of John Lovallo from Bank of America.

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John Lovallo, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - VP [68]

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The first question here, and I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I just want to be clear because I do believe this is why the stock is under pressure today. If we look at the first half revenue growth year-over-year, it's about 18.8%. If we take the high end of your total revenue range of $14 billion, that's going to imply a 15% growth for the full year. At $13.6 billion, it's about 12% growth. So there -- it does appear like there's a deceleration, and the market's looking for any reason to say that growth is slowing. So what are you guys seeing? Is this really kind of just that you got off to a stronger start? Are you seeing any indications that demand is slackening? Did orders trail off through the quarter? Or are things looking a lot better than the market is actually giving you credit for today?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [69]

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Well, John, I think, one element here is if we're looking at simply year-over-year trend, one part of that component is the prior year numbers. We had a slow start last year, honestly. And we talked about that. We were trying to play catch-up all year long with our homes in inventory and getting communities opened, and we got a lot of our growth last year in achieving our 10% to 15% growth in the second half of the year. We've worked really hard to position ourselves to start this year in better position. And so when we performed in Q1 and Q2 versus a slower Q1 and Q2 last year, we've seen a higher annual growth rate. The year is still right in line with what we've expected. It's not a deceleration of growth. It's really more of a function of the comparison to the prior year on a quarter-to-quarter basis. We invest in this business on multiyear cycles. We plan our years out. And we try to put ourselves in each of our communities in the best position possible to execute as well and give a chance -- ourselves an opportunity to do better, and we believe we're in good position this year to do it. We're feeling really good about the rest of the year. We're feeling really good about our ability to position ourselves to grow double-digit again in fiscal '18. And we certainly don't feel like we're decelerating here. It feels like we're in position to do exactly what we're planning to do.

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John Lovallo, BofA Merrill Lynch, Research Division - VP [70]

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Okay, yes, that's really helpful. And then if we think about just kind of the traffic that's been coming through your communities, interest rates has bounced around a bit. I know last quarter, you mentioned that you didn't see any real notable impact. But how are -- how is traffic? How are folks feeling in general? And is there any continued chatter about interest rates that you guys are hearing?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [71]

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Not a lot of chatter about interest rates. I can tell you, the sales people in our company today feel as good about the market as they have ever. Traffic, traffic numbers are up. We're selling houses. We're well-positioned against competition where we have competition. And it's -- I mean, it's just a good time to be in the business. So...

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Operator [72]

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Our next question comes from the line of the Jack Micenko from SIG.

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Jack Micenko, Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Deputy Director of Research [73]

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I wanted to talk a little bit about Freedom. I know in the past, you've talked about it being a growth opportunity next year. I think you said 10 markets, 8 states today. Is it possible for you to size what that looks like a year from now, 4 quarters or 5 quarters from now? And if it is growing and the community count numbers are still flattish, what do the Freedom communities displace? Or will that be the growth in community count?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [74]

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I think -- this is David. I think Freedom will be a growth in our community count. We're certainly not looking to displace any of our other brands. So it is kind of a unique product and offering, and it's not going to roll out at the same speed that Express did. So -- but yes, I think in '18, '19, it will be a big part of the growth story.

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Jack Micenko, Susquehanna Financial Group, LLLP, Research Division - Deputy Director of Research [75]

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Okay, great. And then on the financial service margin, what is driving it higher? Is that just more volume? Or are you doing more, I don't know, FHA, VA, that's driving the gain on sale profitability higher? What's behind the change in guidance on the financial service side?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [76]

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We're seeing better loan sale execution. So we are seeing higher gains on sale. We're also continuing to see a higher average loan amount, particularly in this quarter. So that, coupled with just -- this doesn't affect the operating margin, but the revenue growth that we saw and our increased capture rate again, our financial services operation has done a great job about capturing more of our home buyers, our D.R. Horton homebuyers. And that all helps us play out to drive better efficiencies, better G&A leverage to drive that higher operating margin.

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Operator [77]

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Our next question comes from the line of Mike Dahl from Barclays.

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Michael Glaser Dahl, Barclays PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [78]

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David, I wanted to follow up on a comment you made about California and D.R.'s tours a couple -- to a couple of questions ago. And just ask specifically, is the enthusiasm coming from the Express rollout or is it kind of across your brands? And then specific to the rollout of Express, can you give us a little more color on how that's going and whether or not there's been any impact from things like the rains that you've seen in parts of California?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [79]

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I would say the enthusiasm was the alignment of our people out there with the opportunities in the market. Because he was not only in California looking at the Express program rollout. He was also along the coast, looking at our infill operations and up in Seattle and Portland. So I mean, it's just strong markets with aligned teams executing very well. And the -- what was the California Express question? I'm sorry.

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Michael Glaser Dahl, Barclays PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [80]

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Just if you could give us any update on how that rollout's going and whether or not there's been any impact from the rain?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [81]

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Have not seen a big impact from the rain because it's -- everything in California takes a lot longer. We have a significant number of projects identified and/or controlled and we're launching, it's -- I think the impact that we're going to see, probably going to be in 2018. But just the opportunity and the positioning that we have been able to accomplish, pretty exciting for us.

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Michael Glaser Dahl, Barclays PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [82]

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Got it. And then...

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [83]

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Have not seen a lot of impact from the rains.

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Michael Glaser Dahl, Barclays PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [84]

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My second question is going back to -- actually I think the first question around lumber. And I appreciate that you guys have the purchasing power to negotiate much better deals than some others across the industry. But just want to make sure we understand just mechanically the right way to think about it between how you contract out on lumber and then the kind of cost allocation process that takes place as you incur essentially higher costs and then obviously your build cycle. So to the extent this most recent lag higher in lumber sticks, is that something that will impact the P&L in the second half? Or is it more likely to be something where you'd have it impacting fiscal '18?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [85]

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Okay. Mike, so we would allocate the cost of the individual houses that we're buying the lumber for, and we're looking out lumber pricing, it varies on the lots, 30, 60, 90 days and some adjustments to the buying of protecting our backlog and our planned spec starts in the near term. So as any lumber cost may come through in our purchasing production, they would show up in a house closing 4 to 6 months after that lumber was dropped on the lot -- or 2 to 6 months after that lumber was dropped on the lot. And so you would see that particular cost line potentially having some pressure. But I would tell you that we would expect to see some of those things offset by other decreases in other material costs that we are seeing, as well as continued greater labor efficiencies that we're getting with our production processes in our neighborhoods -- with the Express and some of that Express concepts going into our other product lines.

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Michael Glaser Dahl, Barclays PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [86]

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Got it. And are there other things that you can point out specifically as far as the areas where you're seeing the decreases for the actual sticks and bricks cost?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [87]

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Nothing to point out specifically. It's just that we've been working really hard with a lot of our national trade partners to focus on our purchasing power and some of the mutual benefits we can both have in expanding their market share in a given market.

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Operator [88]

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Our next question comes from the line of Michael Rehaut from JP Morgan.

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Michael Jason Rehaut, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [89]

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First question. Just wanted to circle back to community count, and it looks like actually, there's a couple of questions earlier about maybe community count flat to slightly down and any kind of, I think, earlier, Bill kind of talked about community count being stable for the year. But it seems like community count was actually up sequentially 3% during the quarter. And you also have, I think, as you've alluded to earlier, you have a continued growth now in lot count for a few quarters, up solid double digits, and excuse me, that I didn't -- I forgot to type in the total number for this quarter, but believe you're still at a healthy double-digit pace now for a few quarters. So why wouldn't lot count maybe continue to drift up sequentially for the rest of the year similar to the second quarter rate?

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [90]

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Are you asking if our lot count's going to continue to drift up...

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Michael Jason Rehaut, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [91]

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No, I'm sorry, community count. Community count, excuse me.

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [92]

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Sequentially, our community count on average was up 2%. So it was the first time we've seen a slight tick up in that community count, and we do have the lots for that to happen. But as Bill mentioned earlier, the timing of when communities roll off and when new ones roll on, is pretty flexible and it's highly dependent on the sales absorptions we're seeing in our currently open communities and then often just our ability to bring new communities online because there's a lot of moving parts. So we could see that continue to go up. But we don't expect it to go drastically up. Any changes in our community count, both sequentially and year-over-year, we would expect to be in the low single-digit range.

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Michael Jason Rehaut, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division - Senior Analyst [93]

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Okay, fair enough. Also on the gross margin front. Obviously, still well within your guidance range. But essentially, what you've had now is a couple of quarters a touch below 20%, that was preceded by the back half of '16 a little bit above 20%. So just curious if there's anything mix-driven so far in the first half of that -- of this year that resulted in it being a little touch below. It seems like your cost inflation is still very reasonable and not too much of a driver, if I'm interpreting those numbers correctly. So just curious if it was a little bit more mix-driven or obviously, the warrantees sometimes play a role.

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [94]

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Right. Mike, this Bill. We've really seen incredible stability actually in our gross margin for quite some time now. At a core level, it's been very tight within 20, 30 basis points from quarter to quarter to quarter. And that's why we guide around 20, and we can see some quarterly volatility due to some of those other factors that you mentioned. In general, our interest costs have been ticking slightly lower as a percentage of our cost. And so that's been a slight help to our margin over the last 8 quarters or so. We had -- we see more volatility in kind of our warranty line there. And in recent quarters, we've seen a little bit more of a negative impact from that, not too significant, but a little bit more of a negative impact there in the last couple of quarters, which is one factor why we've been slightly below 20%. But overall, we would characterize our margins as very stable. We're seeing actually less volatility from all of those factors than we have seen over the longer term history in our company, and that's why we're continuing to guide to around 20%. But you will see some movement, either above 20% or below 20% from quarter-to-quarter.

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Jessica Hansen, D.R. Horton, Inc. - VP of Communications [95]

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And Mike, we'll post after the call our supplementary data that has our home sales gross margin slide in it that shows the specific basis point impact, either up and down, to what we kind of call our core growth margin. Some of those items that Bill and you have already touched on, you can see the specifics after the call.

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Operator [96]

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Our next question comes from the line of Will Randow with Citigroup.

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Will Randow, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director [97]

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On Express and Freedom, the 2 things we noticed touring those brands on our recent field trip is you're covering costs out of those homes via not using trusses, for example. And that Freedom buyers were typically buying to live near their adult children in, for example, an Express community. So can you discuss how much cost you carved out of Express and Freedom relative to your peer set on a dollar or percentage base? And secondly, what quantifiable benefits are you seeing from active adult buyers buying Freedom Homes in communities near their children who possibly have bought a Horton home?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [98]

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Will, your question on the cost, was that related to trusses? We didn't quite hear you there.

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Will Randow, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director [99]

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Oh, sorry. So yes. So you carved out cost on trusses and other places within a home, so that was my first one. Can you quantify the benefits? And second, what first derivative benefits are you seeing from active adults buying near their children in co-located communities? Because we heard a few of your salespeople say that on a recent tour.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [100]

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That's part of our overall analysis of Freedom is that we're giving adult children -- or the parent an opportunity, an affordable opportunity, to live near their children and grandchildren. I mean, we just feel like that's a major factor in people relocating. And I live in Florida for 25 years. Saw it every day where somebody was moving down. A job have brought the family, the children and grandchildren down, and then the parents were coming in, trying to find something to buy where they would have a home close to their grandchildren. I just think that's a big driver in the market. And as far as the overall cost in the design and what -- I mean, that's a market-to-market determination. What we tried to do with the Freedom product is drive as much efficiency and labor savings as we possibly could. And so everything we're doing today is to drive better value to the customer and try to take labor out of houses where we can because that's going to be -- that has been and continues to be the constraint on a market right now. I think there's not a builder out there that could sell more houses if they get them built.

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Will Randow, Citigroup Inc, Research Division - Director [101]

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And I guess as a follow up, realizing your exposure to California is smaller than most of your public peers, there have been concerns regarding the ever-senseless state of California mandating what type of labor you choose via AB-199 in a number of markets which can add thousands of dollars of cost to a house and also a mandate to reduce emissions by 20% in 2017 which can add another $5,000 to $10,000 per house. We have heard AB-199 is a moot point, but the emission costs is real. Can you comment on both the AB-199 you may have as well as the emissions productions cost for you?

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [102]

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Well, we compete market by market, and we're going to be competitive in every market we're in, as David said, looking to provide the value on the ground that we are. And the great thing about the country we have is that different parts of it can enact different rules that meet what their population wants to see happen. So we have an exposure to California. Maybe it is a little smaller percentage-wise than some other of our peers. But we do like our positions in California and the way we're positioned to take advantage of some affordable value plays we have there.

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Operator [103]

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We have time for one last person in queue. Our last person is Buck Horne with Raymond James.

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Buck Horne, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - SVP, Equity Research [104]

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Just wondering if you could just maybe offer a little bit of color on the kind of month-to-month trends in the order growth activity, just how that progressed January through March? And any comments you might be able to offer on how April is feeling right now?

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Bill W. Wheat, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CFO and EVP [105]

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Buck, through the spring, we've really seen solid, good, consistent demand out there, really good supply demand dynamics, very little supply. And so really, just a good solid, stable, consistent spring, and really thus far in April, we're seeing the same kind of conditions -- pretty healthy, good, strong market out there.

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Buck Horne, Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Research Division - SVP, Equity Research [106]

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Sounds good. And on the -- just looking at your option lot positions. That's been growing so rapidly, and I know that's a determined strategy. So what opportunities are still out there to keep growing the number of lots you're controlling through options? How do you see that longer-term mix of owned versus optioned land going and does that impact your margins at all longer-term?

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [107]

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Historically, we like a 50-50 balance as far as the misnomer on the option lot contract is typically they extend over a period of time. And your margins on the front end of the community may be a little less. But if pricing power continues within the market, depending on times and the cycle, you can actually end up on the back half of those deals with submarket price lots and very strong margin.

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Michael J. Murray, D.R. Horton, Inc. - COO and EVP [108]

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Buck, one more comment I'd make on that lot positioning and impact on margins. What we're really focused on in underwriting our communities is our return that we get community by community, and option lot positions can provide a very efficient, very high-returning community to move forward with that. So it's not just the margin that's one component of the returns that we're looking at as a community in our underwriting, but returns are much more important to us today and generating cash flow.

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Operator [109]

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That is all the time we have for questions. I'd like to hand the call back over to management for closing comments.

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David V. Auld, D.R. Horton, Inc. - CEO and President [110]

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Thank you, Doug. And we appreciate everyone's time on the call today and look forward to speaking with you again in July. Again, a special thanks to the D.R. Horton team. Outstanding quarter. You continue quarter after quarter to outperform the industry, and we certainly appreciate it. Thank you.

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Operator [111]

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Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today's teleconference. Thank you for your participation. You may disconnect your lines at this time, and have a wonderful day.