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Homebuilder D.R. Horton reports loss

D.R. Horton Inc., the nation’s largest homebuilder, said Thursday it swung to a loss in the final three months of 2007, hurt by hefty charges to write down inventory and declining land values.

Amid a housing slump, cancellation rates remained high and pushed down sales orders 52 percent from a year ago. In the nation’s biggest market, California, Horton’s sales orders fell 72 percent.

Horton’s losses in the quarter that ended Dec. 31 totaled $128.8 million, or 41 cents a share, compared with profit of $109.7 million, or 35 cents, a year earlier. The most recent quarter, the first in Horton’s new fiscal year, included $245.5 million in pretax charges to write down inventory and the value of land deposits.

Revenue plunged to $1.71 billion from $2.8 billion a year ago. The builder closed on 6,549 homes, down sharply from 10,202 a year earlier.

Managed care provider Aetna Inc. said Thursday its fourth-quarter profit rose 3 percent from membership growth, premium and fee rate increases and cost cuts.

Net income grew to $448.4 million, or 87 cents a share, from $434.1 million, or 80 cents a share, a year ago. Excluding items, profit totaled 88 cents a share in the latest period. Revenue rose 12 percent to $7.14 billion from $6.36 billion a year ago.

The company’s combined medical-loss ratio, which measures the amount of money spent on services compared with the amount of payments collected, widened to 80.3 percent for the fourth quarter from 78.8 percent in the 2006 period.

For 2007, Aetna reported revenue of nearly $27.6 billion, up 9.8 percent from $25.1 billion in 2006. Net income was $1.83 billion, or $3.47 a share, up 7.6 percent from $1.7 billion, or $2.99 a share.

Eastman Kodak Co. said Thursday it expects to exert growing pressure on juggernaut Hewlett-Packard Co. in the home inkjet-printer market, possibly tripling sales this year of a fledgling line of printers that produce high-quality photos using inexpensive ink cartridges.

After completing a four-year, $3.4 billion overhaul, Kodak predicted at its annual investor meeting that sales will grow 5 percent on average each year from 2008 through 2011, driven by a 10 percent to 12 percent rise in digital revenue.

Its forecast of $10.3 billion to $10.5 billion in 2008 sales is at the higher end of a Wall Street range of $9.9 billion to $10.3 billion among analysts surveyed by Thompson Financial.

Kodak’s stock, which skidded to a 30-year low of $16.66 two weeks ago, rose 63 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $19.29 in trading Thursday.


 

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