Toll Brothers profit surges 62% 

U.S. luxury home builder Toll Brothers on Tuesday reported its first fall in quarterly orders in more than four years, hit by rising interest rates and higher home prices.

Toll’s results are the latest evidence of slowing housing demand, after years of steady recovery following the housing crash of 2007-2008. The company’s shares were down 4.2 percent in premarket trading.

The housing market has been a weak spot in a robust U.S. economy, with economists blaming the sluggish trend on rising mortgage rates, which have combined with higher prices, to make home purchase unaffordable for potential buyers.

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes plunged to a more than 2-1/2-year low in October due to sharp declines across regions.

Toll, whose homes can cost upwards of $2 million, said orders, a key indicator of future revenue, dropped 13.3 percent to 1,715 units in the quarter ended Oct. 31, against the 6.5 percent rise expected by analysts.

Orders fell the most in California, Toll’s biggest market by revenue, declining 39.4 percent to 226 units in the quarter, the company said.

“Significant price appreciation over the past few years, fewer foreign buyers in certain communities, and the impact of rising interest rates, all contributed to this slowdown,” Chief Executive Officer Douglas Yearley said, referring to the California market.

Pennsylvania-based Toll forecast first-quarter homes sales in fiscal 2019 between 1,350 and 1,550 units, below the 1,554 units expected by analysts on average, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

D.R. Horton, the No.1 U.S. homebuilder, last month also forecast first-quarter home sales below analysts’ estimates, saying it was seeing a rise in marketing incentives in the face of the choppy demand environment.

Toll’s net income rose to $311 million, or $2.08 per share, in the quarter, beating analysts’ estimate of $1.83 per share.

Revenue surged 21.1 percent to $2.46 billion, above the Wall Street’s expectation of $2.35 billion.

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