PulteGroup, Inc., Bloomfield Hills, Mich., on Wednesday morning reported net income of $76.3 million ($0.20 per share), compared with a prior year net loss for the second quarter of $189 million (-$0.74 per share). The gain included an $82 million tax benefit as well as $45 million in impairments and mortgage related charges. Minus the tax benefit, the company would have lost one cent per share, in line with the consensus analyst estimate. Still, it was the company's first profitable quarter in more than three years.

The results include the integration of Centex into PulteGroup, but prior-year metrics were not adjusted to reflect Centex results. As a result, year-over-year comparisons are skewed positively.

Evidence of that skew can be seen in revenues and closings for the quarter, which were up 93% to $1.3 billion and 5,030 homes, respectively, from the prior-year quarter. The average selling price fell 4% to $251,000.

New orders for the second quarter were up 25% to 4,218 homes, roughly flat with first quarter 2010. New order dollars increased to $1.14 billion from$862 million in last year's quarter. Average new order price increased to $270,200 from approximately $256,000. The cancellation rate was 18.2%, flat with the first quarter and down from 21.7% in the prior year.

Backlog was up 44% to 5,644 homes valued at $1.6 billion, compared with prior year backlog of 3,916 homes with a value of $1.1 billion.

The company did not report on its land holdings or community counts in the earnings release.

The financial services unit reported a pre-tax loss of $9 million, also flat the comparable quarter last year, on higher loan origination volumes and revenue, up 72% and 75%, respectively, offset by $17 million in charges related to loan repurchase liabilities taken in the quarter. The capture rate for the quarter was 76%, compared with 91% for the same quarter last year.

Gross margin as a percentage of home sales was 12.6%, down from 13% in the first quarter but up substantially from a negative 10.9% in the comparable quarter of 2009. SG&A was $147 million, compared with $114 million in last year's quarter and down from $151 million in the first quarter of 2010, 11.7% of home sales revenue, compared with 17.5% in the comparable period last year and 15.4% in the first quarter 2010.

The Company ended the quarter with a cash balance of $2.7 billion. Adjusting for its cash position, PulteGroup's net-debt-to-total-capitalization ratio was 32%, down from 38% at the comparable period last year and 43% at year end 2009. The company listed $4.28 billion in long-term debt on its balance sheet at quarter's end.

Richard J. Dugas Jr., PulteGroup CEO, sounded a note of guarded optimism in his statement included in the earnings release. "Recent buyer demand has been stable, albeit at very low levels, after the pull back experienced following expiration of the federal tax credit at the end of April," he said. "While reasonable to expect a modest seasonal pick up in the second half of 2010, long-term we believe that any significant housing recovery will require a stronger economy, higher employment and greater overall consumer confidence."

Pulte shares were up 3.3% at $871 at 10 a.m. Wednesday.