July 26, 2017 / 10:14 AM / 2 years ago

D.R. Horton posts slowest order growth in three quarters

(Reuters) - No.1 U.S. homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc (DHI.N) reported its slowest growth in orders in three quarters on Wednesday even as it grapples with higher labor and lumber costs.

FILE PHOTO: A house built by the D.R. Horton company is seen for sale in Arvada, Colorado January 24, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

The company’s shares fell as much as 3.9 percent on Wednesday as investors also assessed June home sales data.

Shares of other homebuilders were also down: PulteGroup Inc (PHM.N), Lennar Corp (LEN.N), Toll Brothers Inc (TOL.N) were all off about 1 percent.

While new home sales rose for a second straight month in June, housing starts are running well below their historic average, data showed.

An acute shortage of homes for sale has weighed on the housing market for about two years. As the labor market churns out more jobs and builders struggle to secure land, building materials and skilled labor, the situation could worsen.

D.R. Horton said orders, an indicator of future revenue for homebuilders, rose 11.3 percent to 13,040 homes in the third quarter ended June 30. Orders rose 13.8 percent in the second quarter and 14.6 percent in the first quarter.

The company said it expects to sell 45,800 to 46,200 homes in fiscal 2017, which ends in September, and forecast revenue of $13.9 billion to 14.1 billion. It had previously forecast 44,500 to 46,000 homes and revenue of $13.6 billion to $14 billion.

The homebuilder, which mainly sells single-family homes, said it sold 12,497 homes in the quarter, compared with 10,739 a year earlier.

Smaller rival PulteGroup Inc (PHM.N) reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Tuesday, but lowered its full-year gross margin forecast partly due to higher lumber prices following wildfires in Canada.

D.R. Horton said there was a slight pick-up in lumber costs, but it was able to offset the increase with its revenues.

Edward Jones analyst Robin Diedrich said profitability at the home level declined, most likely due to rising labor and commodity costs and the company’s shift toward selling a greater mix of lower-priced homes.

D.R. Horton’s net income rose about 16 percent to $289 million, or 76 cents per share. Analysts had expected a profit of 75 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company’s total revenue, which includes land and lot sales and sales from its financial services business and other items, was $3.78 billion, beating the average estimate of $3.72 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

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