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As the Market Cools, Home Builder Peters Sees Revenue Plunge

June 16, 1989|JOHN CHARLES TIGHE | Times Staff Writer

Newport Beach home builder J.M. Peters Co. Inc., which rode a hot real estate market to record earnings last year, on Thursday reported that its revenue plunged 36% and earnings fell 31% during the three months ended May 31.

Peters said that revenue for the first quarter of its 1990 fiscal year dropped to $57.5 million from $89.6 million during the same period a year ago. Earnings fell to $5 million from $7.3 million.

A prepared release issued by the company did not discuss reasons for the decline, but home sales in Southern California have fallen significantly in recent months in response to rising interest rates and higher prices. Peters officials could not be reached for comment.

The company said it closed sales on 142 homes during the quarter, compared to 317 for the same quarter a year ago. The company received 250 home orders during the quarter, compared to 481 for the comparable period a year ago. On May 31, the firm's backlog stood at 385 new units, compared to 621 a year earlier and 277 units on Feb. 28, Peters said.

Sales of new and used housing in Orange County fell 30.4% in May compared to the year-earlier period, according to TRW Real Estate Market Information. Market Profiles, a Costa Mesa consulting firm, reported that Orange County sales of new homes and condominiums were down 31% for the first three months of this year compared to the same period last year.

Across the state, sales of existing single-family houses fell 14.1% in April, a sign some market analysts interpreted as the end of a yearlong buying spree in which prospective owners in some cases camped out for chances to buy new homes.

Last year, the hot market helped Peters' earnings jump 81% to $38.7 million, while revenue rose 38% to $390.8 million.

Peters stock declined 37.5 cents per share Thursday, closing at $10 per share in trading on the American Stock Exchange.

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