Brazilian builder Cyrela Q1 profit jumps; turnaround gains steam
* Earnings fall just short of estimates
* Pre-sales rise 11.3 pct from year earlier, expenses decline
* Gross profit margin rises for ninth straight quarter
By Asher Levine
SAO PAULO, May 14 (Reuters) - Brazil's No. 1 homebuilder Cyrela said first-quarter net profit surged over 50 percent, with restructuring efforts resulting in lower expenses and pre-sales showing a robust jump.
Cyrela is widely seen as ahead of its peers in terms of revamping its operations after a period of aggressive over-expansion led to huge cost overruns and big quarterly losses across the industry.
The net profit of 179 million reais ($89.5 million) represented a 51.8 percent rise from the same period a year ago, although it was slightly lower than an average estimate of 186 million reais from six analysts polled by Reuters.
Efforts to increase productivity helped lead to a 22.2 percent drop in administrative expenses.
The company also enjoyed an 11.3 percent jump in pre-sales, with cash generation reaching 180.4 million reais in the quarter and net debt to shareholder equity falling to 39.7 percent, a level among the lowest in Brazil's homebuilding sector.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDA, rose 13.5 percent from a year earlier to 278 million reais, missing the average estimate of 292 million reais in the Reuters survey.
The company's gross profit margin, or the portion of revenue left over after construction costs, rose for a ninth straight quarter to 33.3 percent from 32.8 percent in the fourth quarter.
Earlier this year, Cyrela estimated a gross margin for 2013 of between 31 percent and 35 percent.
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