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Ryland 1Q Loss Widens As Revenue Plunges Amid Fewer Closings

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Ryland Group Inc.'s (RYL) first-quarter loss widened as revenue fell more than expected amid a steep drop in closings. The builder has reported just a single profitable quarter since the fourth quarter of 2006. It has seen revenue decline of late from year-earlier periods boosted by homebuyers' rush to take advantage of a government tax credit. The U.S. housing market recovery is proving to be a prolonged, painful process. Builders face price competition from deeply discounted foreclosed properties, and consumers are jittery about falling values and having a hard time qualifying for mortgages. Earlier this month, KB Home (KBH) and NVR Inc. (NVR) reported their bottom lines deteriorated in the latest quarter. Ryland posted a loss of $19.5 million, or 44 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $14.3 million, or 33 cents a share. The latest period included $9.9 million, or 22 cents a share, in pretax charges related to inventory and other valuation adjustments and write-offs. The prior-year result included $5 million in such charges. Revenue plunged 30% to $174.9 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted a loss of 31 cents on $187 million in revenue. Housing gross margin, excluding inventory and other valuation adjustments, rose to 15.2% from 13.9%. New orders fell 17% by number of units as closings dropped 30%. The average closing price was unchanged. Shares closed at $17.55, down 0.6%. Through the close, the stock is down 28% the past year. -By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240;

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