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Toll Brothers: First profit in 3 years

By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Homebuilder Toll Brothers made a profit last quarter -- its first in three years. And it largely has Uncle Sam's tax credits to thank for it.

The company said Wednesday that it earned net income of $27.3 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, for the quarter ending July 31. Last year it lost $472.3 million in the same period in 2009.

Chief Executive Douglas Yearley Jr. said that "much of this quarter's profitability was due to tax benefits."

Toll Brothers (TOL) reduced the pre-tax value of $12.5 million in assets, including already-built subdivisions as well as land cleared for future communities.

Analysts had been expecting the company to suffer another loss.

Revenue fell to $454.2 million in quarter, from $461.4 million the prior year.

The company's stock edged up in pre-market trading.

Toll is the first builder to post quarterly results since the April 30 expiration of the $8,000 tax credit, which boosted homebuilders and the housing market.

The company's quarterly announcement follows a dismal home sales report on Tuesday that aroused fears of a double dip in the housing prices and triggered a slump in the stock market.

Existing home sales sank 27.2% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.83 million units, their lowest level in 15 years, according to the National Association of Realtors. Much of the drop was attributed to the end of the homebuyer tax credit.

More bad news for the housing market came out on Wednesday, when the U.S. Commerce Department reported that new home sales plunged in July to their lowest level on record.

New home sales plummeted 12.4% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 276,000. This was much worse than expected, as economists had forecasted a gain to 334,000. To top of page

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