MEXICO CITY Shares of Mexican homebuilder Homex sank more than 8 percent on Wednesday after the company reported a sharp loss for its fourth-quarter on lower home sales and rising construction costs.
Homex, which reported after the market closed on Tuesday, said it lost 206.43 million Mexican pesos ($16.04 million) compared with a profit of 61.04 million pesos a year ago.
"The results were worse than expected," BofA-Merrill Lynch said in a report, in which it lowered its recommendation on Homex's stock from "neutral" to "underweight."
Analysts also said the company was hurt by a change in government housing policy aimed at combating urban sprawl that many see as harmful to homebuilders like Homex.
The company is reliant on government subsidies for the low-income houses it sells.
In a conference call with analysts, Homex CEO Gerardo de Nicolas said he expected the first quarter of 2013 to be "slow," but gave no more details.
Nonetheless, he added that the outlook for the company remained positive, despite the government's determination to continue with its housing policy.
The government's stance, among other factors, led ratings agency Fitch to threaten a downgrade of the sector's leading companies including Homex, Urbi (URBI.MX) and Geo (GEOB.MX).
"We are confident the new administration in charge of housing will provide greater support to homebuilders such as Homex, who have committed to the creation of better planned communities," de Nicolas said.
($1 = 12.8704 Mexican pesos)
(Reporting by Elinor Comlay and Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)