Toll Brothers will report its third-quarter earnings on Wednesday morning, offering a window into how well higher-end homes sold in the three months post-tax credit. But what might be of more interest is any information on the company's new side business, working out distressed real estate assets with the FDIC.
While Toll executives have said its sales were less impacted by the boom and bust created by the April 30 expiration of home buyer tax credit, it was clearly affected by diminishing consumer confidence in the face of the summer's dismal economic news.
In mid-June, Toll reported that while the company was slightly ahead of last year's third quarter sales pace per community, its community count was down 21%.
"We currently anticipate that our total net signed contracts in FY 2010's third quarter will be less than those signed in our FY 2010 second quarter," CFO Joel H. Rassman said in the rare mid-quarter report.
Analysts also expect to hear greater detail about the company's new Gibraltar Capital and Assets Management subsidiary, created to hold and manage distressed real estate assets it expects to acquire in the downturn. By August Gibraltar, in partnership with Oaktree Capital Management and Milestone Merchants, closed on a deal to buy $1.7 billion in former AmTrust Bank assets.
Analysts are expecting the Horsham, Penn.-based builder to post another loss this quarter, with the consensus predicting a $0.14 a share drop. Analysts' earnings forecasts for the quarter ending July 31 ranged from a loss of $0.01 to a loss of $0.41. A loss this financial period would add up to 12 consecutive quarters of red ink for Toll Brothers.
Toll, with its huge pot of cash, has been a bit of a darling among stock analysts, who think it has the power to outlast any housing downturn. Yet some expect the company to face some challenges returning to profitability because of struggling margins and more land impairments related to its large land holdings.
"We expect the Street to be modestly surprised to the positive on TOL's order stream, yet will struggle with the profitability equation," wrote analyst Stephen East of Ticonderoga Securities.
East said he expects the company to take between $50 and $60 million in land charges during the quarter "as the slowing demand picture and significant legacy land issues weigh on results."