M/I Homes, Inc. (NYSE:MHO), Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday reported a net loss of $8.3 million (-$0.45 per share) for the 2010 first quarter ended March 31, compared to a net loss of $28.1 million, or $2.01 per share during the first quarter of 2009. The 2010 loss included $3.2 million of asset impairments and a $600,000 set-aside for Chinese drywall remediation efforts.

The company booked a $4.9 million pre-tax operating loss despite a 24.2% increase in total revenue to $119.4 million, largely the result of $31 million in land/lot purchases and land development expenses. Home closings were up 22% to 479, with the average closing price increasing to $242,000 from $235,000 in the 2009 first quarter.

New orders rose 15% to 765, with the cancellation rate falling to 18% from 20% in the prior-year quarter. The absorption rate per community rose 33% from 1.8 per month to 2.4 per month.

Backlog at March 31 was up to 936 from 839 a year earlier with an aggregate sales value of $247 million, up from $193 million at the close of the 2009 first quarter. The average sales price of homes in backlog increased to $263,000 from $230,000 a year earlier.

M/I Homes had 109 active communities at March 31 compared to 119 a year earlier and 101 at yearend 2009. Owned lots were down to 7,306 from 8,431 at the close of last year's first quarter and lots under contract were up to2,479 from 954, resulting in a total lot count of 9,785, up from 9,385 a year earlier.

The adjusted gross operating margin improved to 17.3% at the close of the 2010 quarter from 12.7% for the prior-year quarter. SG&A was approximately $23.5 million, up from $21.1 million a year earlier.

The company ended the quarter with home building case of $134 million and no borrowings on its revolver. It listed total debt of $205.5 million, flat with last year's quarter. M/I said its net debt-to-capital ratio had fallen to 23% from 34% at the same time last year.

Robert H. Schottenstein, M/I president and CEO, said, "Looking ahead, we are firmly focused on returning to profitability. While we believe 2010 will remain choppy and somewhat challenging, we are very optimistic about our future."

Shares of M/I were down 5.7% at $15.85 in early morning trading Wednesday.

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