Centex Corp. (NYSE:CTX), Dallas, on Monday after market close reported earnings from continuing operations for its fiscal first quarter ended June 30 of $85 million ($0.68 per share), up from a loss of $169 million, (-$1.36 per share), in the previous year's fiscal first quarter. The gain included a $410 million tax benefit ($3.31 per share) resulting from favorable tax developments. Analysts were expecting a loss of $1.31 per share but not figuring in the tax benefit.

Though the company generated positive cash flow, revenues were down 49% from last year's comparable quarter to $574 million. Home building revenues were $551 million, 47% below last year's quarter as closings declined 42% to2,297 homes and the average sales price fell 10% to $237,085. Home building reported an operating loss of $240 million for the quarter versus a loss of $131 million in last year's first quarter, including $212 million of impairments and write offs, up from $80 million in the year-ago quarter.

Centex said it recognized an income tax benefit from continuing operations of $407 million and $14 million for the three months ended June 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. The tax benefit for the quarter ended June 30, 2009 primarily resulted from changes in the company's liability for unrecognized tax benefits (including interest and penalties) and its deferred tax asset valuation allowance. It's deferred tax asset is now booked at a value of $38 million.

New orders fell 32% to 2,871 homes. Homes in backlog vell 41% to 4,752 units. Value of homes in backlog vell 44% to $1,15 billion. Lot count was down from slightly more than 81,300 in last year's quarter, 66,766 owned, to slighly more than 60,700 this quarter, with 54,992 owned. Average community count fell 21.3% to 447.

The company said it reduced total SG&A expenses by 47% or $135 million to $155.1 million. Gross margin held steady at 11.8%, down marginally from 11.% in last year's quarter.

Centex ended the quarter with $1.44 billion in unrestricted cash, up from$1.365 billion on June 30 last year and a total of cash and cash equivalents of $1.9 billion. It listed $3.1 billion in senior and other notes.

Financial services reported an operating loss of $13 million in the quarter, compared to earnings of $6 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. The decrease in operating earnings in the quarter was primarily attributable to a $14 million increase in anticipated losses for loans originated and sold due to an increase in investor repurchase and indemnification requests.

There was no comment from Centex executives in the earnings release. In the first fiscal quarter, Centex and Pulte entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Centex would merge with a wholly-owned subsidiary of Pulte if approved by shareholders at a meeting on August 18.

Shares of Centex were off marginally at $11.30 in after-hours trading after a positive day of trading for most of the home builder group.