Brazil homebuilder MRV's project launches surge in fourth quarter

SAO PAULO Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:28pm EST

SAO PAULO Jan 20 (Reuters) - The value of project launches at Brazil's No. 2 homebuilder by market value, MRV Engenharia SA , more than doubled in the fourth quarter following a push to sell off inventory in previous quarters.

Launches totaled 1.34 billion reais ($573.1 million) in the fourth quarter, a 101 percent increase from the same period in 2012, according to a securities filing on Monday.

The total value of launches in 2013 was 3.52 billion reais, up 2 percent from the previous year, while contracted sales rose 27 percent to 5.09 billion reais. Contracted sales, a measure of firm home purchases, totaled 1.23 billion reais in the fourth quarter, up about 1 percent from a year earlier.

In November, Chief Executive Officer Rubens Menin said the company, which focuses on the low-income market, would increase the pace of project launches as it sold off inventory. Most of the third quarter's sales came from existing stock.

"We had been selling more than we were launching, and that obviously has a limit," Chief Financial Officer Leonardo CorrĂȘa told Reuters on Monday.

While Brazil's economy is widely expected to grow sluggishly this year, CorrĂȘa said he is bullish on MRV's outlook because some of its competitors, struggling with high sales cancellations and project delays, have bowed out of the low-income segment.

"The construction cycle is long, so until one decides to come back, purchase land and restart the whole process, it is a situation that is going to last for a relatively long time," he said.

MRV is expected to release fourth-quarter and full 2013 earnings on March 27.