Beazer Homes USA (NYSE:BZH), Atlanta, on Monday morning reported an $80.1 million loss ($-2.08) for its fiscal first quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008, including impairments and write-downs of $30.1 million. The loss for the same quarter in 2007 was $137.7 million ($-3.57 per share).

Beazer stock was up more than 30% during the trading day but closed up 19% to $1.19 in heavy volume on the New York Stock Exchange.

Home building revenues declined 53.1% for the quarter as closings fell 53.2% to 938 homes. The average selling price remained flat with the same period of the prior year due to changes in both product and geographic mix year-over-year. The company did not offer additional sales incentives or price reductions during the quarter. Closings declined in all segments, with the most significant declines in the East and Southeast, the company said.

Net new home orders totaled 545 for the quarter, a decrease of 56.5% from the first quarter of the prior fiscal year. Net orders declined 49.4% in markets where Beazer maintains a presence and 93.9% in markets it is exiting. The cancellation rate for the first quarter was 45.6%, compared to 46.6% for the same period in the prior year.

Backlog at the end of the quarter was 965 homes with a sales value of $227.2 million compared to 2,231 homes with a sales value of $605.2 million as of December 31, 2007.

The Company continued to reduce overhead. As of December 31, 2008, total headcount was reduced by 32% compared to December 31, 2007 and by more than 70% compared to the peak level in fiscal 2006. Subsequent to the end of the first quarter, headcount was further reduced by approximately 300 employees.

The company controlled 36,642 lots at December 31, 2008 (75% owned and 25% under option), reductions of 8% and 37% from Sept. 30, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2007, respectively. At quarter's end, unsold finished homes totaled 503, a decline of approximately 26% from the level a year ago.

Beazer had $436.9 million in cash on hand at quarter's end, compared to$584.3 million at September 30, 2008 and $236.5 million at December 31, 2007. It also received tax carryback refunds of $168 million after the close of the quarter.

Included in the impairments taken for the quarter was a $16.1 million charge to goodwill, which wiped out the goodwill line on the balance sheet. The impairments also included $30.1 million related to land and $1.3 million related to joint ventures.

"The housing industry continues to face the most difficult business conditions in many decades," said Ian J. McCarthy, president and CEO. "This challenging environment was greatly exacerbated by continued significant weakening in the overall economy, characterized by rising unemployment, low levels of consumer confidence and ongoing disruptions in the financial and credit markets, all of which negatively impacted buyer demand for new homes."