Beazer Homes USA Inc.'s results missed expectations and orders slumped following the expiration of the homebuyer tax credit.

The Atlanta-based home builder reported a 73% surge in home closings as buyers raced to qualify for a federal tax credit offering buyers up to $8,000.

But orders fell 32% after the tax credit expired, mirroring similar declines from other home builders that have reported results in recent weeks, a sign that consumer buying interest cooled.

Beazer's chief executive officer, Ian McCarthy, said Thursday that orders and traffic in May and June were "substantially" below prior-year levels despite low home prices and record-low mortgage rates.

"Homebuyers continue to be concerned about employment, the impact of additional foreclosures and general conditions in the economy," McCarthy said in a press release.

"We believe employment growth and improved consumer confidence remain the keys to a sustainable recovery in the home-building industry," McCarthy continued.

Dan Oppenheim, an analyst with Credit Suisse, said that he does not expect much improvement. "We expect the weak levels of demand seen in May and June to persist," Oppenheim wrote in a client note.

Shares of Beazer fell as much as 5% in early trading. They later regained some ground and by afternoon were down 3.18%, to $4.12.

Beazer had posted three consecutive profits before falling back into the red in the latest quarter.

For the quarter that ended June 30, Beazer reported a loss of $27.8 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $28 million, or 72 cents a share, which included a $55.2 million debt-extinguishment gain.

The latest quarter had 76% more shares outstanding as the company sold 30 million shares earlier this year to raise capital.

Revenue rose 52%, to $339.9 million.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast, on average, a loss of 25 cents and revenue of $325 million.

Gross margin, excluding writedowns, increased to 13.3% from 7.9%.

Margins probably suffered because of the higher levels of closings on speculative homes — which can require bigger discounts to sell — and lower pricing, Oppenheim wrote.

"We anticipate further margin erosion in fiscal fourth quarter and [the first quarter of fiscal 2011] as pricing comes under additional pressure based on the weak demand," he wrote.

The builder's cancellation rate climbed to 28.9% from 23%, possibly indicating that more potential homebuyers walked away from or did not qualify for deals.

The average sale price in the quarter dropped 12%.

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