Toll Brothers, the country's largest luxury homebuilder, today reported its first quarterly loss in 21 years, Bloomberg reports, as the housing slump drove away buyers and forced the company to write down land. “Demand has just fallen off the table,” one analyst explains. Toll lost $81.8 million, or $0.52 per share, but the shares actually rose 1.7%, because analysts had predicted losses of $0.71 per share.
Chairman Robert Toll blamed “chatter about housing” for scaring away buyers. “As soon as that fear leaves the market we’ll be back on top,” he predicted. Toll took $314.9 million in writedowns, less than the $450 million the company predicted Nov. 8. Shares have fallen 36% this year, but until now, the company hadn’t broken its streak of 85 consecutive profitable quarters.