California-bound Ryland boasts record earnings

Howard homebuilder says 3rd-quarter sales nearly double profit

`Direct result of our focus'

Residential real estate

October 28, 1999|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

The Ryland Group Inc., on the heels of announcing plans to relocate its corporate headquarters to Southern California from Columbia, said yesterday that its third-quarter earnings and home sales shattered previous high-water marks.

The homebuilder's net income of $18.1 million, or $1.21 per share, nearly doubled its results from the comparable quarter that ended Sept. 30 a year ago. The company's homebuilding pretax earnings of $35.4 million rose 41 percent compared with the third quarter of 1998. Revenue rose 10 percent to $507.2 million in the quarter.

Ryland attributed the sharp increases to record closings, new orders and a backlog of sales in the quarter, as well as higher gross profit margins and an improved performance by its financial services division.

"We are proud of our improved earnings, which are the direct result of our focus on growing our core homebuilding business with strategically priced product in our existing markets," said R. Chad Dreier, Ryland's chairman and chief executive officer.

"The strength and momentum of Ryland's strategies as a high-volume homebuilder have resulted in positive earnings, increased margins and higher sales volume and will continue to drive Ryland's performance throughout 1999," Dreier added.

In announcing plans Monday to shift its headquarters and lay off 100 employees by July, Dreier pointed to a need to be closer to its core housing markets in California.

As part of the planned move, Ryland said it would take a non-recurring charge of $2.8 million in the quarter.

Ryland generated record third-quarter closings of 2,624 homes, an 11.1 percent gain from the comparable period a year ago; new orders of 2,250 units in the quarter, a 3.1 percent gain; and a record backlog of 4,396 outstanding contracts carrying a volume of $842 million, increases of 14.7 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

At the same time, Ryland's gross profit margins averaged 17.1 percent, a 5 percent increase and the eighth consecutive quarter of higher margins.

"We will balance risk through geographic diversity, careful land planning and expansion of product lines," Dreier said.

Pub Date: 10/28/99

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