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Pulte Returning More Control To Local Level

By Dawn Wotapka Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Builder PulteGroup (PHM) said Friday that is giving more control to its local markets, reversing an industrywide consolidation trend that followed the housing crash. "When our volumes were approaching 50,000 houses a year, national building plans, standardized specifications and standardized purchasing product lines were advantageous," Chief Executive Richard Dugas said in an earnings conference call. "At current volumes, it is making sense for us to push more of these activities down to the local market...We have given greater control back to our field operations to drive local house construction costs lower." The company, the nation's second-largest builder, is also winding down its plant-based operations in Phoenix, where low volumes had turned plant efficiencies into a "margin drag," Dugas said. "While having a changed course on previous strategies is frustrating, it's the right action to drive meaningful change and capture more significant savings," Dugas said. Earlier Friday, Pulte swung to a loss of $165.4 million, or 44 cents a share, compared with a loss of $116.9 million, or 31 cents, a year earlier. -By Dawn Wotapka, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2193;

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