Pulte Homes Inc. (NYSE:PHM), Bloomfield Hills, Mich., on Tuesday after market close reported a net loss of $514.8 million, or $2.02 per share, for the first quarter of 2009 compared with a $696.1 million net loss for the prior year first quarter, or $2.75 per share. The loss included $410.2 million of pre-tax charges related to inventory impairments and other land-related charges, down from $663.6 million in the prior-year quarter.The Wall Street consensus estimate was for a loss of $0.54 per share.

Pulte shares dropped 3.25% in after-hours trading shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday to $11.90 after ending the regular session up 1.1% at $12.30.

Consolidated revenues for the quarter were $587.4 million, a decline of 59% from a year earlier. Revenues from homebuilding settlements decreased 60% to$564.7 million, reflecting a 55% decrease in closings to 2,147 homes and an 11% decrease in average selling price to $263,000.

A bright spot was net new home orders of 3,022 homes, which, though down 44% from the prior year first quarter, were up 71% from the fourth quarter of 2008. The cancellation rate improved to 21% for the first quarter of 2009 compared with 47% for the fourth quarter of 2008 and 28% for the first quarter of 2008.

Ending backlog as of March 31, 2009 was valued at $853 million (3,049 homes), compared with a value of $2.6 billion (8,559 homes) at the end of last year¹s first quarter.

The company¹s financial services operations reported pre-tax loss of $748,000 for the first quarter 2009, compared with $15 million of pre-tax income for the prior year¹s quarter. The loss was primarily due to a 54% decline in mortgage loans originated during the quarter compared with the prior year quarter. The mortgage capture rate for the quarter was 92%, compared with 90% for the same quarter last year.

The company ended the quarter with $1.75 Billion in cash, including a $362 million federal tax refund, and no debt outstanding on its revolving credit facility. At the end of the first quarter 2009, Pulte¹s debt-to-capitalization ratio was 57.6%, 37.9% on a net debt-to-capitalization basis.

During the quarter, Putle reduced spec inventory by 32% and cut home building overhead $82.5 Million, or 41%.

"The operating environment for housing remained very difficult during the first quarter of 2009," said Richard J. Dugas, Jr., president and CEO, in a statement. "The housing market continues to face rising unemployment, tight mortgage availability, increased foreclosure activity and declining home prices, all putting negative pressure on buyer demand. Despite this backdrop, affordability for housing has reached historic highs due to lower home prices and outstanding 30-year mortgage rates. These excellent buying conditions, combined with sharply reduced new home inventory levels provide the setting for an eventual housing recovery which inches closer every day."

He continued, "Although we are not ready to call a bottom in housing, we are nevertheless encouraged by our sales, traffic and cancellation trends seen in the first quarter that have continued into April."

Added Dugas, "Finally, our previously announced merger with Centex is proceeding on schedule for a third quarter 2009 closing, and a transition executive committee has been formed that is focused on planning for a seamless and successful integration."