Ryland Group, Calabasas, Calif. (NYSE:RYL), on Wednesday reported a loss of$52.5 million (-$1.20 per diluted share) for the third quarter ended Sept.30, down from a loss of $65.7 million (-$1.54 per diluted share), for the same period in 2008. The loss included impairments and write-offs of $39.1 million, down from $64.8 million for the same period in 2008. Analysts were expecting a loss of 75 cents per share.

Home building revenues were down 40% to $315.8 million as closings dropped 34.4% to 1,323 and the average closing price declined 6.3% to $238,000.Revenues also included $545,000 from land sales, which contributed a pretax loss of $42,000.

New orders fell 1.1% to 1,270 units, but orders per community rose to 2 from1.4 for the same quarter last year. New order dollars were down 7.7% to$300.3 million. Backlog at quarter's end was down 2.1% from the end of the previous quarter and 18.2% at the end of last year's quarter to 2,429 units.Backlog dollar value was down 2.5% from the second quarter and 22.9% from last year's third quarter at $592.7 million. Inventory of houses started and unsold decreased by 30% to 447 units.

Gross margins rose to 10.8% from 7.8% in the previous quarter but were down from 11.8% in last year's third quarter. After impairment and charges, the gross margin was -.0.2%. SG&A came in at 12.3% of revenue, up from 11.6% for the same period in 2008. Ryland attributed the increase to the revenue decline. In dollar terms, SG&A spending was down by $22.4 million from last year's third quarter.

Ryland's financial services segment posted a loss of $618,000, compared to pretax earnings of $6.0 million for the same period in 2008, due to higher loan indemnification expense and a 31.8% decline in the number of mortgages originated.

The company ended the quarter with $235.4 million in cash and cash equivalents, down from $389.6 million at the end of 2008. It also had $99.8 million in restricted cash and $409.2 million in marketable securities, up from $3.5 million at yearend 2008, at quarter's end.

The net debt-to-capital ratio was 17.1% at Sept. 30.

Shares of Ryland opened higher in Thursday morning trading and had posted gains of 6.3% to $19.83 by mid morning.