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Beazer Homes releases long awaited '07 results

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home builder Beazer Homes USA BZH.N said on Monday that it lost $10.70 per share in fiscal 2007, it released restated results for several years, and said it remains the target of several state and federal investigations.

Beazer said it lost $411.1 million, or $10.70 per share, for the full fiscal year ended September 30, 2007. That compared with a profit of $368.8 million, or $8.44 per share, in fiscal 2006.

The company said in a statement that it lost $155.2 million, or $4.03 per share, in the fourth quarter of 2007, compared with a profit of $83.7 million, or $1.99 per share.

The full-year results included $611.9 million in charges related to the lower value of land and inventory of unsold homes, $52.8 million for good will and $28.6 million related to joint ventures.

Beazer said it sold 35 percent fewer homes in fiscal 2007 than in fiscal 2006. Revenue fell by 35 percent, and new orders declined 30 percent.

As of September 30, Beazer’s cash and cash equivalents totaled $459.5 million.

Last year, Atlanta-based Beazer became the subject of a series of articles by The Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer newspaper that questioned the practices of Beazer’s mortgage-origination unit.

The publicity brought Beazer to the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of North Carolina and the Securities and Exchange Commission, which launched formal investigations. Beazer also responded with its own internal investigation, which it said uncovered accounting irregularities and resulted in the restatements.

Beazer said the 2007 financial statement changes for fiscal years 2003 to 2006, as well as adjustments from 1998 through 2002, due to incorrect booking of revenue and other accounting errors resulted a $27.6 million increase in retained earnings.

“Management concluded that, as of September 30, 2007, the company did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting because of the identification of material weaknesses in its internal control over financial reporting,” Beazer said in the statement.

It said it had instituted various changes including a Code of Business Conduct and Ethics in March 2008; an ethics training program in April 2008; withdrawal from the mortgage business in February 2008; transferring an ethics hotline to a third party; and allocating more resources to its Audit and Controls Department.

Beazer said it was “fully cooperating” with investigating agencies and that it would try to negotiate a settlement with prosecutors and regulators with respect to the mortgage origination issues.

The company said no settlement had been reached with any regulatory authority but it believed it was “probable that a liability exists related to this exposure.”

Last year, Beazer estimated a settlement could cost $8 million to $15 million.

Reporting by Ilaina Jonas

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