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Hovnanian 4Q Loss Narrows On Fewer Charges, Revenue Down

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (HOV) narrowed its fiscal fourth-quarter loss as the home builder saw lower land-related charges than a year earlier, though revenue and contracts slid. "The combination of a lackluster job market and high foreclosure activity is clearly having a dampening effect on the housing market," said Chairman and Chief Executive Ara K. Hovnanian. "The only silver lining is that we continue to find land acquisition opportunities which we believe will yield appropriate returns at today's home prices and sales paces." The company has seen its contracts drop off of late because of the expiration of the federal government's first-time homebuyer tax credit, which concluded this spring after a rush of buyers looked to secure it. Revenue also has declined, hurt by a lack of consumer confidence and job creation, the company has said. For the quarter ended Oct. 31, Hovnanian reported a loss of $132.1 million, or $1.68 a share, from a loss of $250.8 million, or $3.21 a share, a year earlier. The most-recent quarter included $80.6 million of land-related charges, while the year-earlier quarter included $138 million in land-related charges. Revenue dropped 19% to $353 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast a loss of 66 cents on $288 million in revenue. Home-building gross margin, excluding interest, rose to 16.9% from 13.2%. Net contracts excluding unconsolidated joint ventures fell 13%. The builder's cancellation rate was flat at 24%. The company's contract backlog as of Oct. 31 was 30% lower than a year earlier. Shares fell 0.7% to $4.33 after hours. As of the close, the stock had risen 14% this year. -By Nathan Becker, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2855;;

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