PulteGroup Inc. (PHM) earned $14 million in the fourth quarter, or 4 cents a share, as it expanded margins and lowered overhead. A year earlier the same period, the homebuilder lost $165 million, or 44 cents a share.

However, for the full year 2011, PulteGroup lost $210 million, or 55 cents a share. The loss includes $341 million of goodwill impairment, land impairment, debt repurchase and mortgage reserve charges, partially offset by $133 million of land-sale gains and tax benefits

In 2010, PulteGroup lost $1.1 billion, or $2.90 a share

PulteGroup revenue from home sales rose 1% in the fourth quarter to $1.2 billion from a year earlier. A 3% rise in the average selling price to $271,000, partially offset by a 2% decrease in closings to 4,303 homes, drove the revenue increase.

Revenue from home sales for 2011 totaled $4 billion, compared with revenue of $4.4 billion in the prior year. The lower revenue was primarily caused by an 11% decrease in closings to 15,275 homes. The decrease in unit closings reflects the pulling ahead of demand created by the 2010 tax credit and PulteGroup’s lower community count, the company said.

“The 2011 U.S. housing market demonstrated continued stability, although at extremely low levels of new home sales,” said PulteGroup Chief Executive Richard Dugas. “Favorable long-term demographic drivers and improvements in a number of underlying housing data reports provide reasons for optimism heading into 2012.”

In the fourth quarter, PulteGroup entered into transactions that put it under control of about 2,800 lots, increasing the total lots under control in the year to about 12,000.


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