Lennar Quarterly Profit Plunges 73%; Homebuilder Drops Guidance

Lennar , one of the nation's largest homebuilders, said Tuesday its first-quarter profit tumbled 73% on continued softness in the housing market, and warned it doesn't expect to meet its 2007 earnings forecast.

Net income for the quarter ended Feb. 28 fell to $68.6 million, or 43 cents a share, from $258.1 million, or $1.58 a share, in the previous year's period. The results were in line with expectations of analysts polled by Thomson Financial.

Revenue declined 14% to $2.79 billion versus $3.24 billion a year ago, topping Wall Street's estimate of $2.49 billion.

"While some markets are performing better than others, the typically stronger spring selling season has not yet materialized," President and Chief Executive Stuart Miller said in a statement. "These soft market conditions have been exacerbated by the well-publicized problems in the subprime lending market."

The company said it is continuing to pursue cost reductions, savings in selling, general and administrative expenses and product redesign in order to see margin improvement starting in the second half of the year.

"Given the state of the market, we do not expect to achieve our previously stated 2007 earnings goal, and we are not comfortable providing a new earnings goal at this time," Miller added.

Homebuilding operating earnings dropped 69% to $140.0 million and new home orders fell 27 percent to 7,132 homes.