(Repeats to add dropped word)
By Ana Mano
SAO PAULO, March 7 Brazil's largest low-income
homebuilder, MRV Engenharia e Participações SA,
posted a 1.2 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit to 142
million reais ($46 million), missing analysts' expectations as
it launched fewer units than planned.
MRV had 7,975 housing starts in the final quarter of the
year, a 29.5 percent drop from a year earlier, the company said
in an earnings statement on Tuesday. In financial terms,
launches fell by 27.3 percent to 1.2 billion reais.
"We had expected to announce record launches in the fourth
quarter, but delays in building permit issuance prevented us,"
Rafael Menin, co-chief executive officer, said in an interview
to discuss results.
The Thomson Reuters consensus estimate for MRV's
fourth-quarter net income was 157 million reais.
Still, productivity gains pushed gross margins to the
highest level since 2010, even as Brazil's harsh recession
prevented MRV from raising home prices, Menin said.
"MRV is prepared to build and deliver almost 50,000 home
units per year," Menin said, adding that external factors such
as availability of credit and speed of permitting could affect
MRV reported a 6.2 percent drop in gross sales, but a lower
rate of sales cancellations eased the impact on net revenue,
which slipped 1.6 percent to 1 billion reais.
By booking a sale only after lenders approve mortgage terms
for potential buyers, MRV reduced its rate of cancellations by
25 percent last year.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortization, a gauge of operating profitability, fell by 7.7
percent to 160 million reais, missing a 168 million reais
MRV operates in 145 Brazilian cities and plans to boost its
land bank in 30 of them, Menin said, declining to name them.
With planned land bank investments of 800 million reais
through the end of 2018, MRV forecasts product launches will
increase from 29,500 units in 2016, Menin added.
At the end of last year, the company had building permits to
build 50,000 units nationwide.
($1 = 3.12 reais)
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie