Home building industry watchers are likely to get a clearer picture of how well the newly renamed PulteGroup is functioning post-Centex merger on Wednesday when the company reports its first quarter results.
In the fourth quarter of 2009, PulteGroup's balance sheet had several out of the ordinary items that clouded the true performance of the newly merged company. Included in the results was $926 million in charges, including a $563 million decrease in goodwill triggered by the company's stock price fall after the merger. Also included in the results was the impact of an $800 million tax refund.
The result was a loss of $117 million, or $0.31 per share. This quarter, the analysts' consensus is a loss of $0.22 per share, with the estimates ranging from a low of a $0.43 loss to a high of a $0.04 loss.
The results of the quarter ending March 30 should be relatively clear of merger charges and show a picture of what the new mega-builder's operations look like.
PulteGroup's results could also be construed to answer the question of how effective the company's business plan is in the bottoming market. Its philosophy has been somewhat counter to that of many of the other large national builders during the downturn.
While other builders were shedding their legacy land holdings, Pulte was more likely to hold onto its land. CEO Richard Dugas has repeatedly said the company is happy with most of its land positions and that he did not think that there would be an excess of inexpensive finished lots in the wake of the housing boom.
And while other builders beefed up spec homes to be delivered fast to buyers seeking the tax break, Pulte took on Centex's philosophy of focusing on build-to-order houses, which are said to bring higher margins.
"We are firm in our conviction that the large spec buildup only leads to large discounts," Dugas said during last quarter's call with analysts. "We got caught with a lot of inventory in a bad time in the market, and it depressed our margins dramatically, and we are not going back there, God willing."