Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Toll Brothers: Demand Choppy, Sales Down

by Bill McBride on 6/16/2010 06:19:00 PM

Just a few weeks ago, new Toll CEO-designate Doug Yearley, Jr. noted:

"With demand increasing in many areas, we are very focused on growth."
Uh, nevermind ...

From Toll today (ht Brian):
Joel H. Rassman, chief financial officer, stated: ... "While much of the attention surrounding the recent decline in housing indicators has focused on the expiration of the housing tax credit, we believe our customers' buying decisions have been driven more by consumer confidence than by the tax credit. As we noted in our second-quarter earnings press release of May 26, 2010, we believe the volatility in the financial markets and the high U.S. unemployment rate continue to weigh on the nation's psyche. Additionally, in the past several weeks, concerns about the financial crisis in Europe and escalating regional political tensions, coupled with worries about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and its effects on the economy and the environment have negatively impacted the outlook of American consumers.

"In the three weeks following our earnings conference call on May 26, 2010, our per-community deposits have been running about 20% behind the comparable period in last year's third quarter and our per-community traffic has been running about 3% behind. Thus, for the first six weeks of our FY 2010 third quarter beginning May 1, 2010, we are slightly ahead of last year's third-quarter pace of contracts signed on a per community basis. However, we have 21% fewer communities than one year ago.
Slightly ahead on a community bases - with 21% fewer communities. Do the math - they are running close to 20% below last year. And 40% below last year over the last three weeks (20% fewer deposits and 21% fewer communities).
"Although demand in recent weeks has been quite choppy, in general, we continue to believe that the housing market has emerged from its darkest period of late 2008 through early 2009. ... At the moment, consumers view the economic glass as half empty: volatile financial markets, global deficit concerns and the oil spill in the Gulf are all contributing to this gloom. We believe that once the employment picture begins to brighten and the economy stabilizes, consumer confidence will improve and the housing market should begin a steadier recovery."
And there you have what might be the popular Q2 meme: blame the oil spill for poor results.

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