Despite handily beating analysts' earnings expectations and narrowing its loss for 2010's 3Q to $2.1 million, or 11 cents per share, M/I Homes CEO Bob Schottenstein told analysts during an earnings call Monday afternoon that weak demand in the market, resulting in fewer new orders, was pushing the company to keep a tight rein on its overhead costs. Consequently, management had to cut head count during the quarter by 8% from the prior quarter.

The layoffs were taken at the same time that the company saw a 9% year-over-year decrease in general and administrative expenses during the quarter. When selling expenses were added to overhead costs, M/I Homes' SG&A totals hit 18.3% of revenues, a level that company executives would like to see decrease.
When asked what geographies or departments were hit hardest by the head count reduction, company EVP and CFO Phil Creek said positions were eliminated company-wide.

"We pretty much cut our head count almost everywhere," Creek said. "Our better markets tend to be in the Mid-Atlantic, so less of the cuts came from there. But where our business is down--the Midwest and Florida--obviously that impacts corporate and [the] mortgage company. So, really it's been cuts across the board."
And given the continued uncertainty in the market, Schottenstein indicated that this latest reduction in force may not be the last.

"We continue to focus on and closely monitor all of our overhead and selling expenses," he said. "And given the persistence of difficult conditions in the market and a lower sales pace, we continue to aggressively focus on areas where we can cut costs, including the further reduction in head count where appropriate to match current volume levels."

Full earnings results can be accessed here, while a replay of the call is available at

 Sarah Yaussi is executive editor for BIG BUILDER magazine.