PulteGroup (PHM) reported first-quarter losses of $12 million, or 3 cents a share, reducing its year-ago losses of $40 million, or 10 cents a share.

The Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based homebuilder met analyst expectations of 3 cents a share, according to Zacks Investment Research, buoyed by a dramatic increase in land sale revenues.

Home sale revenues in the first quarter increased 4% to $814 million from $782 million a year earlier. The rise in revenue reflects a 5%, or $12,000, increase in average selling price to $261,000, partially offset by a 1% decrease in closings to 3,117 homes. The boost in average selling price is a result of the ongoing shift in the mix of closings towards move-up homes, which carry a higher selling price.

Pulte’s land sale revenue rocketed to $38.4 million in the period from $1.3 million from a year earlier. The homebuilder’s loss includes $6 million of land-related charges, which were offset by $6 million of land-sale gains. Land-related charges and land sale gains were immaterial in the year ago period.

First-quarter cost of sales related to home sales totaled $712 million, compared with prior year costs of $685 million.

Pulte reported a 15% growth in signups of 4,991 homes generated from 6% fewer communities. The cancellation rate in the first quarter was 15%, down from 16% in the prior year.

And the company’s backlog as of March 31 sits at 5,798 homes valued at $1.6 billion, compared to a prior year backlog of 5,188 homes valued at $1.4 billion.

“Our first-quarter results reflect the benefit of initiatives launched in 2011 which are expected to deliver additional gains as we move through the remainder of 2012 and beyond,” Chief Executive Richard Dugas said.

The homebuilder holds $1.3 billion in cash, $117 million more than at the end of 2011.






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