COSTA MESA — Standard Pacific L.P., continuing like most home builders to be buffeted by slow sales, said Wednesday that earnings for the first quarter fell about 85% to $2.7 million from $18.7 million a year earlier.
Revenue fell 28% to $71.3 million from $99.2 million.
Standard Pacific officials said in a recent interview that the steep drop in earnings was prompted largely by price cuts and increased marketing costs as the company intensified its efforts to reach prospective buyers.
In that interview, conducted at the end of February, Chairman Arthur E. Svendsen said sales activity began increasing in the fourth quarter and new home orders in the first quarter were outpacing each quarter in 1990.
Svendsen and other company officers were in a board meeting and could not be reached for comment Wednesday. But in a statement released with its financial report, the company said new orders during the first quarter rose 22% from the first three months of 1990.
Svendsen has attributed the improved pace of sales to lower mortgage rates and improving consumer confidence.
As of March 31, Standard Pacific had 411 presold homes in its backlog, up more than 70% from Dec. 31, 1990.
Standard Pacific is a publicly traded limited partnership that builds medium-priced single-family homes, with most of its operations in California.
In addition, the company owns Standard Pacific Savings, a Newport Beach thrift, and has a second subsidiary, Panel Concepts L.P., that manufactures and markets office partitions and wood office furniture.