HORSHAM, PA-Losses continued to mount for Toll Brothers Inc. during the luxury homebuilder’s first fiscal quarter of 2008, which ended Jan. 31. The company generated a net loss of $96 million, compared with $54.3 million for the same quarter a year ago.

Revenues, backlog, signed contracts and the average home price all registered declines. Total revenues were $842.9 million, down 23% from the first fiscal quarter of 2007. The quarter-end backlog was $2.4 billion, 42% lower than the 2007 first-quarter backlog of nearly $4.2 billion.

Gross signed contracts for the most recent quarter totaled $573.1 million, down 46% from the same quarter of 2007. Contracts represented 904 homes, which is a 36%-decline versus the prior year quarter. The average price per unit was $634,000, down from $646,000 in the fourth quarter of 2007 and from $730,000 in the first quarter of 2007. The decline is attributed primarily to a shift in the mix, which now includes more condos than in previous quarters.

This year’s selling season, which Robert Toll, chairman and CEO, said starts in mid-January, “has been weak for the third year in a row.” During the conference call, however, he pointed to “a few glimmers of hope.” He specifically cited Naples, FL.

He noted that Naples was “a tremendous market before the downturn,” and said from March 2006 through late 2007, “it seemed as though we couldn’t give away a home there.” Toll also cited Washington, DC, “among the first markets to weaken. We have seen the glimmer before and it faded; perhaps this time it won’t.”

Toll blamed “ceaseless talk of recession” for continuing to dampen the mood of consumers. “For home buyers, we believe this drumbeat, coupled with concerns over mortgages, the direction of home prices and foreclosures has kept pent-up demand on the sidelines.”

Following the conference call, shares of TOL on the NYSE were trading at $23.67, up 2.4% for the day and considerably above the 52-week low of $15.49 a share, which occurred on this Jan. 9. The 52-week high of $31.15 a share occurred on May 24, 2007.

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