Table of Contents

 

 

 

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 


 

FORM 10-K

 

x

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

 

 

 

 

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

OR

 

 

 

o

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Commission File Number 1-9977

 

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 

Maryland

 

86-0611231

(State or Other Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

 

(IRS Employer Identification No.)

 

 

 

17851 North 85th Street, Suite 300, Scottsdale, Arizona

 

85255

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(480) 515-8100

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange on which Registered

Common Stock, $.01 par value

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:  None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.

Yes   o  No   x

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.

Yes   o  No   x

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  Yes  x    No  o

 

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  o

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

Large accelerated filer  o       Accelerated Filer  x       Non-accelerated filer  o        Smaller reporting company  o

 

Indicate by checkmark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  Yes  o    No  x

 

The aggregate market value of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant (28,219,462 shares) as of June 30, 2008, was $428,089,239, based on the closing sales price per share as reported by the New York Stock Exchange on such date.

 

The number of shares outstanding of the registrant’s common stock on February 25, 2009 was 30,871,724.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

 

Portions from the registrant’s Proxy Statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on May 21, 2009 have been incorporated by reference into Part III, Items 10, 11, 12 , 13 and 14.

 

 

 



Table of Contents

 

MERITAGE HOMES CORPORATION

FORM 10-K

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 2.

Properties

19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 4.

Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders

21

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market For Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

23

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

43

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

72

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 9B.

Other Information

74

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

74

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

74

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

75

 

 

 

 

 

SIGNATURES

 

80

 

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Table of Contents

 

PART I

 

Item 1. Business

 

The Company

 

Meritage Homes is a leading designer and builder of single-family attached and detached homes based on the number of home closings.  We operate in the historically high-growth southern and western United States. We offer a variety of homes that are designed to appeal to a wide range of homebuyers, including first-time, move-up, luxury and active adult buyers. We have operations in three regions:  West, Central and East, which are comprised of 12 metropolitan areas in six states.  These three regions are our principal business segments.  Please refer to Note 14 of the consolidated financial statements for information regarding our operating and reporting segments.

 

Our homebuilding and marketing activities are conducted under the names Meritage Homes, Monterey Homes and Legacy Homes. At December 31, 2008, we were actively selling homes in 178 communities, with base prices ranging from approximately $95,900 to $967,000.

 

Available Information; Corporate Governance

 

Meritage Homes Corporation was incorporated in 1988 as a real estate investment trust in the State of Maryland. At December 31, 1996, through a merger, we acquired the homebuilding operations of our predecessor company. We currently focus exclusively on homebuilding and related activities and no longer operate as a real estate investment trust.

 

Information about our company and communities is provided on our Internet website at www.meritagehomes.com.  The information contained on our website is not considered part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.  Our periodic and current reports, including any amendments, filed or furnished pursuant to section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”) are available, free of charge, on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after they are electronically filed with or furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

 

Meritage operates within a comprehensive plan of corporate governance for the purpose of defining responsibilities and setting high standards for ethical conduct. Our Board of Directors has established an audit committee, executive compensation committee and nominating/governance committee. The charter of each of these committees is available on our website, along with our Code of Ethics and our Corporate Governance Principles and Practices. Our committee charters, Code of Ethics and Corporate Governance Principles and Practices are also available in print, free of charge, to any stockholder who requests any of them by calling us or by writing to us at our principal executive offices at the following address:  Meritage Homes Corporation, 17851 North 85th Street, Suite 300, Scottsdale, Arizona 85255, Attention:  Legal Department. Our telephone number is (480) 515-8100.

 

Recent Industry and Company Developments

 

During 2008, the financial crisis and economic recession further exacerbated the existing downturn in the homebuilding market and resulted in additional downward pressure on home sales and asset values.  Based on statistics from the Mortgage Bankers Association, processed foreclosures reached approximately 1.4 million in the last quarter of 2008 as compared to an average of about 500,000 per quarter during 2000-2007.  These record-high foreclosure rates intensified competition for homebuyers in an already saturated marketplace with the influx of existing homes inventory, coupled with the lack of availability of mortgage financing resulting from the turmoil in the financial industry.  Concern about the state of the economy and the job market further deteriorated consumer confidence, as unemployment rates rose in almost all of the metropolitan areas tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor, ending 2008 with a national average of 6.5% as compared to 4.5% in the prior year.  We believe that the tepid demand we are experiencing reflects homebuyers’ reluctance to make a purchasing decision until they are comfortable that the price declines are near bottom and economic conditions have stabilized.  We believe the current conditions could continue, and potentially worsen during 2009, and we expect that our operations will remain depressed until the homebuilding industry and economy as a whole begin to rebound.

 

The current condition of our industry has required a complete review of our operating model and a re-assessment of short-term and long-term goals for us, as well as others in our peer group.  Therefore, although we maintain our long-standing position of a built-to-order move-up builder, we are also now repositioning some of our product to increase affordability appeal to first-time buyers at lower price points by offering a value-designed product.  We are also reducing or eliminating certain standard features from our base home models to re-align them with current market conditions, while continuing to provide a wide selection of upgrade options, allowing our customers to customize their new home with the

 

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features they consider most important.  All of our divisions are also actively renegotiating material and subcontract labor contracts to achieve further cost savings.  We have priced our new product offerings to qualify under FHA and other governmental mortgage program limits.  We are also building small amounts of unsold homes in our communities to be able to accommodate the first-time buyers who are currently renting and do not want to wait for a new home to be constructed, as well as the first-time move-up buyer who has previously sold their home and has been waiting for the right opportunity to purchase a home that allows for an immediate move-in.  Our goal of four-to-five spec homes in each community should provide sufficient selection for the new homebuyer or a move-up buyer who has previously sold his home and is now ready to commit to an immediate new home purchase.

 

We are now focused on returning our operations to profitability by targeting the following initiatives:  (1) winding down under-performing operations and consolidating overhead functions at all of our divisions to reduce general and administrative cost burden, (2) reducing our total lot supply by renegotiating or opting out of lot purchase and option contracts, (3) maintaining unsold home inventory at reasonable levels commensurate with sales volumes, (4) redesigning product offering to reduce construction costs and address pricing concerns expressed by consumers, (5) renegotiating construction costs with our subcontractors where possible, (6) exercising tight control over cash flows, (7) changing sales and marketing efforts to generate additional traffic to focus on first-time and first-move-up buyers, and (8) monitoring our customer satisfaction scores and making improvements based on the results of the surveys.

 

Markets and Products

 

We currently build and sell homes in the following markets:

 

Markets

 

Year Entered

 

Phoenix, AZ

 

1985

 

Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX

 

1987

 

Austin, TX

 

1994

 

Tucson, AZ

 

1995

 

Houston, TX

 

1997

 

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

 

1998

 

Sacramento, CA

 

1998

 

Las Vegas, NV

 

2002

 

San Antonio, TX

 

2003

 

Los Angeles (Inland Empire), CA

 

2004

 

Denver, CO

 

2004

 

Orlando, FL

 

2004

 

 

The chart above reflects the dates our predecessor companies entered our Texas and Arizona markets.

 

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Our homes range from entry level to semi-custom luxury. A summary of activity by region as of and for the years ended December 31, 2008 and 2007 follows (dollars in thousands):

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31, 2008

 

At December 31, 2008

 

 

 

# of
Homes
Closed

 

Average
Closing
Price

 

Homes
in
Backlog

 

$ Value of
Backlog

 

Home Sites
Controlled 
(1)

 

# of
Actively
Selling
Communities

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

581

 

$

416.2

 

87

 

$

33,910

 

661

 

12

 

Nevada

 

247

 

266.1

 

25

 

6,453

 

877

 

12

 

West Region Total

 

828

 

378.7

 

112

 

40,363

 

1,538

 

24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

1,084

 

250.6

 

190

 

42,211

 

5,725

 

31

 

Texas

 

3,217

 

243.7

 

887

 

230,155

 

7,814

 

109

 

Colorado

 

145

 

346.3

 

44

 

13,265

 

222

 

3

 

Central Region Total

 

4,446

 

248.7

 

1,121

 

285,631

 

13,761

 

143

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

353

 

260.3

 

48

 

12,037

 

503

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Company

 

5,627

 

$

267.5

 

1,281

 

$

338,031

 

15,802

 

178

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31, 2007

 

At December 31, 2007

 

 

 

# of
Homes
Closed

 

Average
Closing
Price

 

Homes
in
Backlog

 

$ Value of
Backlog

 

Home Sites
Controlled 
(1)

 

# of
Actively
Selling
Communities

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

908

 

$

463.9

 

164

 

$

81,532

 

2,267

 

27

 

Nevada

 

261

 

340.4

 

64

 

18,660

 

1,057

 

11

 

West Region Total

 

1,169

 

436.3

 

228

 

100,192

 

3,324

 

38

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

1,718

 

330.6

 

390

 

120,558

 

6,904

 

36

 

Texas

 

4,164

 

250.5

 

1,472

 

384,351

 

14,192

 

127

 

Colorado

 

160

 

375.4

 

53

 

18,137

 

592

 

6

 

Central Region Total

 

6,042

 

276.6

 

1,915

 

523,046

 

21,688

 

169

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

476

 

321.4

 

145

 

46,747

 

1,103

 

13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Company

 

7,687

 

$

303.6

 

2,288

 

$

669,985

 

26,115

 

220

 

 


(1) “Home Sites Controlled” is the estimated number of homes that could be built on lots we control, both on lots available for sale and on land expected to be developed into lots.

 

The 39% reduction in our homesites controlled as of December 31, 2008 as compared to the prior year reflects our efforts to execute on our strategy to decrease our lot position.  During the past year, we have exited under-performing markets, sold excess owned lots, terminated lot contracts in less successful subdivisions and recalibrated our holdings to be more in line with our current operation volumes.

 

The average closing price decline in 2008 versus 2007 highlights the increased volumes of incentives offered in 2008 as competition among homebuilders increased to sell their inventory by providing more affordable price points.  The price adjustments were further impacted by targeted price reductions to accelerate the sales and closing pace in certain wind-down or under-performing communities.  Looking to 2009, we expect a continued downward trend in our average closing and sales prices as we re-design our products to a lower price point to attract more of the first-time and first move-up demographic.

 

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Land Acquisition and Development

 

Our goal is to maintain an approximate three- to four-year supply of lots, which we believe provides an appropriate planning horizon to address regulatory matters and land development; although, during the current downturn in the homebuilding industry, we have significantly limited any additional purchases of land or lots and are working through our existing lot inventory pipeline.  As of December 31, 2008 we have a 3.4 year supply, based on 2008 orders.  For the time being, we plan to limit our purchase of lots until the pace of home sales stabilizes and our sales pace begins to recover.  We generally acquire land only after necessary entitlements have been obtained so that development or construction may begin as market conditions dictate. The term “entitlements” refers to development agreements and tentative maps or recorded plats, depending on the jurisdiction within which the land is located. Entitlements generally give the developer the right to obtain building permits upon compliance with conditions that are ordinarily within the developer’s control. Even though entitlements are usually obtained before land is purchased, we are still required to secure a variety of other governmental approvals and permits prior to and during development. The process of obtaining such approvals and permits can substantially delay the development process. We may consider, on a limited basis, the purchase of unentitled property when we can do so in a manner consistent with our business strategy.  Historically, we have developed parcels ranging from 100 to 300 lots, although in the current economic environment we plan to focus on limited lot purchases of smaller groups of finished lots.  However, in order to achieve and maintain an adequate lot inventory, we have also historically purchased larger parcels, in some cases with joint venture partners. In some cases, these joint ventures purchase undeveloped land and develop the land themselves.

 

For land or finished lots we intend to purchase, our selection is based upon a variety of factors, including:

 

·                  demographic factors, based on extensive marketing studies;

 

·                  suitability for development, generally within a one to four-year time period from the beginning of the development process to the delivery of the last home;

 

·                  financial feasibility of the proposed project, including projected profit margins, returns on capital employed, and the capital payback period;

 

·                  the ability to secure governmental approvals and entitlements;

 

·                  results of environmental and legal due diligence;

 

·                  proximity to local traffic corridors and amenities; and

 

·                  management’s judgment as to the real estate market and economic trends, and our experience in particular markets.

 

We also purchase finished lots, on which the development has already been completed.  These lots are ready for immediate home construction and are the focus of our limited purchases in the current financial environment.  The factors used to evaluate these finished lot purchases are similar to those for land we intend to develop ourselves, although as the development risks associated with the land – financial, environmental, legal and governmental – have been borne by others, these lots are more attractive to us, even though the price of these finished lots may be higher, reflecting their additional value.

 

We acquire land through options and land purchase contracts. Purchases are generally financed through our corporate borrowings or working capital. Acquiring our land through option contracts allows us to control the timing and volume of lot and land purchases from the third parties who own or buy properties on which we plan to build homes. We enter into option contracts to purchase finished lots at pre-determined prices during a specified period of time from these third parties, usually structured to approximate our projected absorption rate at the time the contract is negotiated. These contracts are generally non-recourse and typically require the payment of non-refundable deposits of 5% to 15% of the sales price. We believe the use of options limits the market risks associated with land ownership by allowing us to re-negotiate option terms or terminate options in the event of declines in land value and/or market downturns.  As market conditions change, we may attempt to re-negotiate the option or purchase contracts to achieve terms that are more in line with market conditions.  Such adjustments can include deferment or reduction in lot takedown requirements or price concessions.  If we are unsuccessful in these re-negotiations, we may determine that a project is no longer feasible or desirable and cancel these contracts, usually resulting in the forfeiture of our option deposits.

 

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Once we secure land, we generally initiate development through contractual agreements with subcontractors. These activities include site planning and engineering, as well as constructing road, sewer, water, utilities, drainage, recreation facilities and other improvements and refinements. We frequently build homes in master-planned communities with home sites that are along or near major amenities, such as golf courses or recreation facilities.

 

We develop a design and marketing concept tailored to each community, which includes the determination of size, style and price range of homes. We also typically determine street layout, individual lot size and layout, and overall community design for these projects. The product lines offered depend upon many factors, including the housing generally available in the area, the needs of a particular market, and our lot costs for the project, though we are increasingly able to use standardized design plans for a product line.

 

During 2008, we terminated options on about 7,800 lots and wrote off option deposits and pre-acquisition costs of $74.1 million.  At December 31, 2008, we had 7,052 lots under option or contract for a total purchase price of approximately $641.0 million, with $51.1 million in cash deposits and $9.0 million in letters of credit deposits.  Additional information relating to our impairments is discussed in Note 2 — Real Estate and Capitalized Interest, and information related to lots and land under option is presented in Note 3 — Variable Interest Entities and Consolidated Real Estate Not Owned in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

 

The following table presents information as of December 31, 2008 (dollars in thousands):

 

 

 

Number of
Lots Owned 
(1)

 

Number of
Lots Under Contract
or Option 
(1)(2)

 

Total Number
of Lots
Controlled

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

524

 

137

 

661

 

Nevada

 

653

 

224

 

877

 

West Region Total

 

1,177

 

361

 

1,538

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

4,154

 

1,571

 

5,725

 

Texas

 

2,987

 

4,827

 

7,814

 

Colorado

 

152

 

70

 

222

 

Central Region Total

 

7,293

 

6,468

 

13,761

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

280

 

223

 

503

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Company

 

8,750

 

7,052

 

15,802

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total book cost (3)

 

$

481,972

 

$

51,124

 

$

533,096

 

 


(1)           Excludes lots with finished homes or homes under construction. The number of lots is estimated and is subject to change.

 

(2)           There can be no assurance that we will actually acquire any lots under option or purchase contract. These amounts do not include about 172 lots under contract with refundable earnest money deposits of approximately $1.3 million, for which we have not completed due diligence and, accordingly, have no money at risk and are under no obligation to perform under the contract, and approximately 300 lots under contract with minimal non-refundable earnest money deposits of $163,000, which are still in the due diligence process. However, these amounts do include about 460 lots under option contracts with joint ventures in which we are a member.

 

(3)           For Lots Owned, book cost primarily represents land, development and capitalized interest. For Lots under Contract or Option, book cost primarily represents earnest and option deposits.

 

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Investments in Unconsolidated Entities - Joint Ventures

 

We participate in several joint ventures with independent third parties (six active joint ventures at December 31, 2008) relating to the purchase and development of land. We have less than a controlling interest in our joint ventures. We typically enter into these joint ventures with other homebuilders, land sellers or other real estate investors to provide us and the other joint venture partners with a means of accessing larger parcels and lot positions, expanding our market opportunities, managing our risk profile and leveraging our capital base. The typical joint venture acquires raw land and processes the property through the entitlement process and, in some cases, develops the property into partially or fully finished lots. These joint ventures are usually obligated to sell all or a part of the property or lots to the joint venture members (at the respective member’s option), generally at prevailing fair market values (either at the time of acquisition or the time of sale). In some cases, part of the property is sold to non-member homebuilders, commercial developers and other third parties. Our participation in these types of joint ventures has historically been an important part of our business model, and although in our current environment our involvement in joint ventures is limited, we expect to continue to participate in joint ventures as unique opportunities arise.

 

In connection with these land joint ventures, we and/or our joint venture partners provide certain types of guarantees, indemnification arrangements with surety and performance bond providers and environmental indemnities. Reference is made to Part II, Item 8 in this Annual Report, “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data — Note 1 — Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies” for a detailed discussion of these items.

 

We also participate in seven mortgage and two title business joint ventures.  The mortgage joint ventures are engaged in mortgage brokerage activities, and they originate and provide services to both our clients and other homebuyers.  The mortgages originated by these ventures are primarily funded by third-party mortgage lenders with limited recourse back to us or our joint ventures.

 

At December 31, 2008, we had approximately $15.9 million invested in joint ventures involved in the purchase, development and/or sale of land. We also had approximately $1.4 million invested in mortgage brokerage and title service joint ventures. In 2008, we reported pre-tax losses of $26.5 million related to our share of the loss of our land joint ventures and $9.5 million in income related to our share of the earnings of our mortgage-brokerage and title service joint ventures.  The land joint venture losses include $26.0 million of impairments recorded against our venture investments. For our land joint ventures, we do not recognize profits on lots or land that we acquire from the joint venture, but instead defer profits, if applicable, until we sell the related homes to third party homebuyers.

 

Construction Operations

 

We act as the general contractor for our projects and typically hire subcontractors on a project-by-project or reasonable geographic-proximity basis to complete construction at a fixed price. We usually enter into agreements with subcontractors and materials suppliers on an individual basis after receiving competitive bids. We obtain information from prospective subcontractors and suppliers with respect to their financial condition and ability to perform their agreements before formal bidding begins. Occasionally, we enter into longer-term contracts with subcontractors and suppliers if we can obtain more favorable terms to minimize construction costs. Our project managers and field superintendents coordinate and supervise the activities of subcontractors and suppliers, subject the development and construction work to quality and cost controls, and monitor compliance with zoning and building codes. At December 31, 2008, we employed approximately 278 full-time construction operations personnel.

 

We specify that quality, durable materials be used in construction of our homes and we do not maintain significant inventories of construction materials, except for work in process materials for homes under construction. When possible, we negotiate price and volume discounts and rebates with manufacturers and suppliers on behalf of our subcontractors to take advantage of production volume. Historically, access to our principal subcontracting trades, materials and supplies has been readily available in each of our markets. Prices for these goods and services may fluctuate due to various factors, including commodity prices and supply and demand shortages, all of which may be beyond the control of our vendors. We believe that we have good relationships with our suppliers and subcontractors.

 

We generally build and sell homes in clusters or phases within our larger projects, which we believe creates efficiencies in land development and home construction operations and cash management, and improves customer satisfaction by reducing the number of vacant lots surrounding a completed home. Our homes are typically completed within four to six months from the start of construction, depending upon the geographic location and the size and complexity of the home. Construction schedules may vary depending on the availability of labor, materials and supplies, product type, location and weather. Our homes are usually designed to promote efficient use of space and materials, and to minimize construction

 

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costs and time. We typically have not entered into any derivative contracts to hedge against weather or materials fluctuations as we do not believe they are particularly advantageous to our operations.

 

Marketing and Sales

 

We believe that we have an established reputation for developing high quality homes, which helps generate interest in each new project. We also use advertising and other promotional activities, including our website at www.meritagehomes.com, magazine and newspaper advertisements, brochures, direct mailings and the placement of strategically located signs in the vicinities around our developments.

 

We use furnished model homes as a marketing tool to demonstrate to prospective homebuyers the advantages of the designs and features of our homes. We generally employ or contract with interior and landscape designers who are responsible for creating attractive model homes and complexes that highlight the options available for the product line within a project. We generally build between one and three model homes for each actively selling community, depending upon the number of homes to be built in the project and the products to be offered.  When possible, we sell our model homes to, and lease them back from, institutional investors who purchase the homes for investment purposes or from individual buyers who do not intend to occupy the home immediately. At December 31, 2008, we owned 181 and leased 147 model homes and had an additional 20 models under construction.

 

Our homes generally are sold by full-time or part-time, commissioned employees who typically work from a sales office located in one of the model homes for each project. At December 31, 2008, we had approximately 244 full-time sales and marketing personnel. Our goal is to ensure that our sales force has extensive knowledge of our sales strategies and housing products. To achieve this goal, we train our sales associates and conduct regular meetings to update them on sales techniques, competitive products in the area, financing availability, construction schedules, marketing and advertising plans and the available product lines, pricing, options and warranties offered. Our sales associates are licensed real estate agents where required by law. Independent brokers may also sell our homes, and are usually paid a sales commission based on the price of the home. Our sales associates assist our customers in selecting upgrades or in adding available customization features to their homes, which we design to appeal to local consumer demands.  We may also offer various sales incentives, including price concessions, assistance with closing costs, and landscaping or interior upgrades, to attract buyers. The use and type of incentives depends largely on economic and local competitive market conditions. Given market conditions over recent periods, we have offered extensive incentives to generate sales, which negatively impacted our revenues and margins.

 

Backlog

 

Except in limited circumstances, we require a signed sales contract to release a lot to start construction.  Our contracts require cash deposits and are usually subject to certain contingencies such as the buyer’s ability to qualify for financing. Homes covered by such sales contracts but not yet closed are considered “backlog.”  Started homes are excluded from backlog until a sales contract is signed and are referred to as unsold or “spec” inventory.  Sales contingent upon the sale of a customer’s existing home are not considered a sale until the contingency is removed.

 

Due to our recent high cancellation rates, we have a higher than planned volume of finished or under-construction homes in inventory without a sales contract. We do not recognize any revenue until a finished home is delivered to the homebuyer, payment is collected and other criteria for sale and profit recognition are met.  At December 31, 2008, of our total homes in inventory, 14.2% were under construction without sales contracts and 31.1% were completed homes without sales contracts.  A substantial majority of the unsold homes resulted from homesites that began construction with a valid sales contract that was subsequently cancelled.  We believe that during 2009 we will deliver to customers substantially all homes in backlog at December 31, 2008 under existing or, in the case of cancellations, replacement sales contracts.

 

Our backlog decreased to 1,281 units with a value of approximately $338.0 million at December 31, 2008 from 2,288 units with a value of approximately $670.0 million at December 31, 2007. These decreases are due to deteriorating market conditions and fewer actively-selling communities during 2008 than 2007, which resulted in lower sales volumes and selling prices and higher cancellation rates than those previously experienced.

 

Customer Financing

 

We attempt to help qualified homebuyers who require financing to obtain loans from mortgage lenders that offer a variety of financing options. We have entered into several joint venture arrangements with established mortgage brokers in most of our markets, which allow those ventures to act as preferred mortgage broker to our buyers to help facilitate the sale and closing process as well as generate additional fee income. In some markets we use unaffiliated preferred mortgage

 

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lenders. We may pay a portion of the closing costs and discount mortgage points to assist homebuyers with financing. We do not underwrite, fund or service the mortgages obtained by our homebuyers, and therefore do not assume the risks associated with a mortgage banking business. Since many customers use long-term mortgage financing to purchase homes, the current decrease of availability of mortgage loans, tighter underwriting standards and the fallout from the sub-prime loan market failures have reduced the availability of such loans to our homebuyers.  Additionally, general adverse economic conditions, rising mortgage interest rates and increases in unemployment are deterring and reducing the number of potential homebuyers.

 

Customer Relations, Quality Control and Warranty Programs

 

We believe that positive customer relations and an adherence to stringent quality control standards are fundamental to our continued success, and that our commitment to buyer satisfaction and quality control has significantly contributed to our reputation as a high-quality builder.

 

A Meritage project manager or project superintendent and a customer relations representative generally oversee compliance with quality control standards for each community. These representatives perform the following tasks:

 

·                    oversee home construction;

 

·                    oversee subcontractor and supplier performance;

 

·                    review the progress of each home and conduct formal inspections as specific stages of construction are completed; and

 

·                    regularly update buyers on the progress of their homes and coordinate the closing process.

 

We generally provide for each home a one- to two-year limited warranty on workmanship and building materials.  Some states in which we build homes also have laws providing statutory warranties related to structural defects that generally range in duration from eight to ten years.  We generally require our subcontractors to provide an indemnity and a certificate of insurance before beginning work, and therefore any claims relating to workmanship and materials are generally the subcontractors’ responsibility. With the assistance of an actuary, we establish reserves for future warranty costs based on our historical experience within each division or region, and record such reserves at home closing.  Reserves generally range from 0.1% to 1.8% of a home’s sale price. Historically, these reserves have been sufficient to cover out-of-pocket costs we were required to absorb for warranty repairs.

 

Competition and Market Factors

 

The development and sale of residential property is a highly competitive industry. We compete for sales in each of our markets with national, regional and local developers and homebuilders, existing home resales, foreclosures, and to a lesser extent, condominiums and rental housing. Some of our competitors have significantly greater financial resources and may have lower costs than we do. Competition among both small and large residential homebuilders is based on a number of interrelated factors, including location, reputation, amenities, design, quality and price. We believe that we compare favorably to other homebuilders in the markets in which we operate due to our:

 

·                    experience within our geographic markets which allows us to develop and offer new products;

 

·                    ability to recognize and adapt to changing market conditions, including from a capital and human resource perspective;

 

·                    ability to capitalize on opportunities to acquire land on favorable terms; and

 

·                    reputation for outstanding service and quality products.

 

Although current deep discounts by other builders to sell their home inventory and the recent influx of foreclosures have negatively impacted our sales efforts, we expect that once the market stabilizes, the long-term strengths noted above will continue to provide us with a competitive advantage.

 

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During 2008, we also established a new market research department whose immediate goals are to assist our local markets to better compete with the influx of foreclosure and re-sale homes in their surrounding neighborhoods.  The community-level reviews include analysis of existing inventory, pricing, days on the market and buyer demographics.  The long-term strategy of this department will also provide analytical tools to assist in decision-making regarding product designs, positioning, and pricing and underwriting standards for lot purchases in the current market environment.

 

Government Regulation and Environmental Matters

 

We acquire most of our land after entitlements have been obtained. Construction may begin almost immediately on such entitled land upon compliance with and receipt of specified permits, approvals and other conditions, which generally are within our control. The time needed to obtain such approvals and permits affects the carrying costs of unimproved property acquired for development and construction. The continued effectiveness of permits already granted is subject to factors such as changes in government policies, rules and regulations, and their interpretation and application. To date, the government approval processes discussed above have not had a material adverse effect on our development activities, although there is no assurance that these and other restrictions will not adversely affect future operations.

 

Local and state governments have broad discretion regarding the imposition of development fees for projects under their jurisdictions. These fees are normally established when we receive recorded maps or plats and building permits. Communities may also require concessions or may require the builder to construct certain improvements to public places such as parks and streets.  In addition, communities occasionally impose construction moratoriums. Because most of our land is entitled, construction moratoriums generally would not affect us in the near term unless they arose from health, safety or welfare issues, such as insufficient water, electric or sewage facilities. In the long term, we could become subject to delays or may be precluded entirely from developing communities due to building moratoriums, “no growth” or “slow growth” initiatives or building permit allocation ordinances, which could be implemented in the future.

 

We are also subject to a variety of local, state, and federal statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning the protection of health and the environment. In some markets, we are subject to environmentally sensitive land ordinances that mandate open space areas with public elements in housing developments, and prevent development on hillsides, wetlands and other protected areas. We must also comply with flood plain restrictions, desert wash area restrictions, native plant regulations, endangered species acts and view restrictions. These and similar laws may result in delays, cause substantial compliance and other costs, and prohibit or severely restrict development in certain environmentally sensitive regions or areas. To date, compliance with such ordinances has not materially affected our operations, although it may do so in the future.

 

We usually will condition our obligation to acquire property on, among other things, an environmental review of the land. To date, we have not incurred any unanticipated liabilities relating to the removal of unknown toxic wastes or other environmental matters.  However, there is no assurance that we will not incur material liabilities in the future relating to toxic waste removal or other environmental matters affecting land currently or previously owned.

 

Employees, Subcontractors and Consultants

 

At December 31, 2008, we had approximately 735 full-time employees, including approximately 213 in management and administration, 244 in sales and marketing, and 278 in construction operations. Our employees are not unionized, and we believe that we have good employee relationships. We pay for a substantial portion of our employees’ insurance costs, with the balance contributed by the employees. We also have a 401(k) savings plan, which is available to all employees who meet the plan’s participation requirements.

 

We act solely as a general contractor, and all construction operations are supervised by our project managers and field superintendents who manage third party subcontractors. We use independent consultants and contractors for architectural, engineering, advertising and legal services, and we strive to maintain good relationships with our subcontractors and independent consultants and contractors.

 

Certifications

 

We submitted our annual CEO certification to the New York Stock Exchange within 30 days of our 2008 Annual Meeting of Stockholders with no qualifications.

 

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Item 1A. Risk Factors

 

Risk Factors Related to our Business

 

If the current downturn becomes more severe or continues for a longer-than-anticipated period of time, it would have continued negative consequences on our operations, financial position and cash flows.

 

Continued weakness in the homebuilding industry could have an adverse effect on us. It could require that we write off more assets, dispose of assets, reduce operations, restructure our debt and/or raise new equity or debt to pursue our business plan, any of which could have a detrimental effect on our current stakeholders.

 

Mortgage availability decreases and interest rate increases may make purchasing a home more difficult and may cause an increase in the number of new and existing homes available for sale.

 

In general, housing demand is adversely affected by the lack of availability of mortgage financing and increases in interest rates. Increased cancellations could increase the available homes inventory supply, which may reduce prices and reduce the availability of future financing for our homebuyers. Most of our buyers finance their home purchases through third-party lenders providing mortgage financing. If mortgage interest rates increase and, consequently, the ability of prospective buyers to finance home purchases is adversely affected, home sales, gross margins and cash flow may also be adversely affected and the impact may be material. Although long-term interest rates currently remain at low levels, it is impossible to predict future increases or decreases in market interest rates.

 

Homebuilding activities depend, in part, upon the availability and costs of mortgage financing for buyers of homes owned by potential customers, as those customers (move-up buyers) often must sell their residences before they purchase our homes. Mortgage lenders have recently become subject to more intense underwriting standards by the regulatory authorities which oversee them as a consequence of the sub-prime mortgage market failures, among other reasons. More stringent underwriting standards could have a material adverse effect on our business if certain buyers are unable to obtain mortgage financing.  Additionally, the recent lack of liquidity in both the national and global financial markets further intensified the limited availability of financing for mortgage lenders, even for those who are not impacted by the stricter underwriting standards.  A prolonged tightening of the financial markets would also negatively impact our business.

 

If home prices continue to decline, potential buyers may not be able to sell their homes, which may negatively impact our sales.

 

As a participant in the homebuilding industry, we are subject to market forces beyond our control. In general, housing demand is impacted by the affordability of housing. Many homebuyers need to sell their existing homes in order to purchase a new home from us, and a weakening of the home resale market or a decrease or leveling in home sale prices could adversely affect that ability. A continued decline in home prices would have an adverse effect on our homebuilding business margins and cash flows.

 

Continued high cancellation rates may negatively impact our business.

 

Our backlog reflects the number and value of homes for which we have entered into a sales contract with a customer but have not yet delivered the home. Although these sales contracts typically require a cash deposit and do not make the sale contingent on the sale of the customer’s existing home, a customer may cancel the contract and receive a complete or partial refund of the deposit as a result of local laws or as a matter of our business practices. If home prices decline, interest rates increase, or if the national or local homebuilding economic decline does not abate, homebuyers may have an incentive to cancel their contracts with us, even where they might be entitled to no refund or only a partial refund. Significant cancellations have had, and could continue to have, a material adverse effect on our business as a result of lost sales revenue and the accumulation of unsold housing inventory.

 

A reduction in our sales absorption levels may force us to incur and absorb additional community-level costs.

 

We incur certain variable costs associated with our communities, such as marketing expenses and costs associated with the upkeep and maintenance of our model and sales complex.  If our sales absorptions pace decreases and the time required to close out our communities is extended, we may incur additional variable costs, which would negatively impact our financial results.

 

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The value of our real estate inventory may continue to decline, leading to additional impairments and reduced profitability.

 

Some of our remaining owned land was purchased at prices that reflected the strong homebuilding and real estate markets experienced during the early 2000s. As such, in most of these circumstances, we wrote down the value of certain inventory during 2006, 2007 and 2008 to reflect current market conditions or have abandoned such projects.  To the extent that we still own or have options/purchase agreements related to such land parcels that have not yet been impacted by the economic downturn, the continued decline in the homebuilding market may require us to re-evaluate the value of our land holdings and we could incur additional impairment charges, which would decrease both the book value of our assets and stockholders’ equity. We also incur various land development improvement costs for a community prior to the commencement of home construction. Such costs include infrastructure, utilities, taxes and other related expenses. Reductions in home absorption rates increases the associated holding costs and our time to recover such costs. Continued declines in the homebuilding market may also require us to evaluate the recoverability of these costs.

 

Reduced levels of sales may impair our ability to recover pre-acquisition costs and may cause further impairment charges.

 

We extensively use option contracts to acquire land. Such options generally require a cash deposit that will be forfeited if we do not exercise the option. During 2006, 2007 and 2008, we forfeited deposits and wrote off related pre-acquisition costs related to projects we no longer deemed feasible, as they were not generating acceptable returns. Although our remaining pool of optioned projects has significantly decreased due to these abandonments, a continued downturn in the homebuilding market may cause us to re-evaluate the feasibility of our remaining optioned projects, which may result in additional writedowns that would reduce our assets and stockholders’ equity.

 

Our joint ventures with independent third parties may be illiquid, and we may be adversely impacted by our joint venture partners’ failure to fulfill their obligations.

 

We participate in several land acquisition and development joint ventures with independent third parties, in which we have less than a controlling interest. Our participation in these types of joint ventures has decreased over the last few years due to current market conditions and the reduced need for lots, and we have reduced our involvement in such ventures. Historically, these joint ventures were structured to provide us with a means of accessing larger parcels and lot positions and help us expand our marketing opportunities and manage our risk profile. However, these joint ventures often acquire parcels of raw land without entitlements and as such are subject to a number of development risks that our business does not face directly. These risks include the risk that anticipated projects could be delayed or terminated because applicable governmental approvals cannot be obtained at reasonable costs, if at all. In addition, the risk of construction and development cost overruns can be greater for a joint venture where it acquires raw land compared to our typical acquisition of entitled lots. These increased development and entitlement risks could have a material adverse effect on our financial position or results of operations if one or more joint venture projects is delayed, cancelled or terminated or we are required, whether contractually or for business reasons, to invest additional funds in the joint venture to facilitate the success of a particular project.

 

Our joint venture investments are generally very illiquid both because we lack a controlling interest in the ventures and because most of our joint ventures are structured to require super-majority or unanimous approval of the members to sell a substantial portion of the joint venture’s assets or for a member to receive a return of their invested capital. Our lack of a controlling interest also results in the risk that the joint venture will take actions that we disagree with, or fail to take actions that we desire, including actions regarding the sale of the underlying property. In the ordinary course of our business, we provide letters of credit and performance, maintenance and other bonds in support of our related obligations with respect to the development of our projects. In limited cases, we may also offer pro-rata limited repayment guarantees on our portion of the venture debt or other debt repayment guarantees. Most of these guarantees are only triggered if the joint venture files for voluntary bankruptcy or similar liquidation or reorganization actions (“bad boy” guarantees). Our limited repayment and bad boy guarantees were $8.5 million and $72.5 million respectively, as of December 31, 2008.

 

With respect to our joint ventures, we and our joint venture partners may be obligated to complete land development improvements if the joint venture does not perform the required development, which could require significant expenditures. In addition, we and our joint venture partners sometimes agree to indemnify third party surety providers with respect to performance bonds issued on behalf of certain of our joint ventures. In the event the letters of credit or bonds are drawn upon, we, and in the case of a joint venture, our joint venture partners, would be obligated to reimburse the surety or other issuer of the letter of credit or bond if the obligations the bond or guarantee secures are not performed by us (or the joint venture). If one or more bonds, letters of credit or other guarantees were drawn upon or otherwise invoked, our obligations could be significant, individually or in the aggregate, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of

 

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operations or cash flows.  As of December 31, 2008, we were involved in two legal proceedings over these types of guarantees relating to two large joint ventures in which we hold less than 5% interest. We cannot guarantee that additional events will not occur or that such obligations will not be invoked.

 

If we are unable to successfully compete in the highly competitive housing industry, our financial results and growth may suffer.

 

The housing industry is highly competitive. We compete for sales in each of our markets with national, regional and local developers and homebuilders, existing home resales (including foreclosures) and, to a lesser extent, condominiums and available rental housing. Some of our competitors have significantly greater financial resources or lower costs than we do. Competition among both small and large residential homebuilders is based on a number of interrelated factors, including location, reputation, amenities, design, quality and price. Competition among existing home sellers is currently primarily based on price.  Competition is expected to continue and become more intense, and there may be new entrants in the markets in which we currently operate and in markets we may enter in the future. If we are unable to successfully compete, our financial results and growth could suffer.

 

Our strategies to weather the current economic and homebuilding downturn have met with limited success and the continued execution of these strategies may not have a positive impact on our business

 

Although we have successfully achieved our stated goals of generating positive cash flows and reducing our debt, net-debt to capital ratio and inventory levels, we have had to record sizable real-estate impairments and have experienced gross margin erosion.  Our price decreases to sell completed inventory, wind-down of operations in less profitable markets and the reductions in our active community counts negatively impacted our 2008 results.  Additional external factors, such as the financial crisis, increased foreclosures and higher employment rates put additional downward pressure on our already declining results.  It is uncertain how much longer the current economic down cycle will continue and what the negative effect will be to our financial results.

 

Some homebuyers may cancel their home purchase contracts with us because their deposits are generally a small percentage of the purchase price and are potentially refundable.

 

In connection with the purchase of a home, our policy is to generally collect a deposit from our customers, although typically, this deposit reflects a small percentage of the total purchase price, and due to local regulations, the deposit may be partially refundable prior to closing. If the prices for our homes in a given community continue to decline, our neighboring competitors increase their sales incentives, interest rates increase, the availability of mortgage financing tightens or there is a further downturn in local,  regional or national economy, homebuyers may cancel their home purchase contracts with us. In recent years, we experienced above-average cancellation rates, in part because of these reasons. Continued uncertainty in the homebuilding market could adversely impact our cancellation rates, which would have a negative effect on our results of operations.

 

We face reduced coverage and increased cost of insurance.

 

In the past, lawsuits have been filed against builders asserting claims of personal injury and property damage caused by the presence of mold in residential dwellings. Some of these lawsuits have resulted in substantial monetary judgments or settlements. We believe that we have maintained adequate insurance coverage to insure against these types of claims for homes completed before October 1, 2003. As of October 1, 2003, our insurance policy began excluding mold coverage. If our reserves are not sufficient to protect against these types of claims or if we are unable to obtain adequate insurance coverage, a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows could result if we are exposed to claims arising from the presence of mold in the homes that we build.

 

We are subject to construction defect and home warranty claims arising in the ordinary course of business, which may lead to additional reserves or expenses.

 

Construction defect and home warranty claims are common in the homebuilding industry and can be costly. While we maintain general liability insurance and generally require our subcontractors and design professionals to indemnify us for liabilities arising from their work, we cannot assure that these insurance rights and indemnities will be adequate to cover all construction defect and warranty claims for which we may be held liable. For example, we may be responsible for applicable self-insured retentions, which have increased recently, and certain claims may not be covered by insurance or may exceed applicable coverage limits.

 

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Our income tax provision and other tax liabilities may be insufficient if taxing authorities are successful in asserting tax positions that are contrary to our position. Additionally, continued loss from operations in future reporting periods may require us to continue to adjust the valuation allowance against our deferred tax assets.

 

In the normal course of business, we are audited by various federal, state and local authorities regarding income tax matters. Significant judgment is required to determine our provision for income taxes and our liabilities for federal, state, local and other taxes. Our audits are in various stages of completion; however, no outcome for a particular audit can be determined with certainty prior to the conclusion of the audit, appeal and, in some cases, litigation process. Although we believe our approach to determining the appropriate tax treatment is supportable and in accordance with tax laws and regulations and relevant accounting literature, it is possible that the final tax authority will take a tax position that is materially different than ours. As each audit is conducted, adjustments, if any, are appropriately recorded in our consolidated financial statements in the period determined. Such differences could have a material adverse effect on our income tax provision or benefit, or other tax reserves, in the reporting period in which such determination is made and, consequently, on our results of operations, financial position and/or cash flows for such period.

 

Our net operating loss carryforwards could be substantially limited if we experience an ownership change as defined in the Internal Revenue Code.

 

Since the end of our 2006 fiscal year, we have generated significant net operating losses, (“NOLs”), and we may generate additional NOLs in the future. Under federal tax laws, we can use our NOLs (and certain related tax credits) to offset ordinary income tax on our future taxable income for up to 20 years, after which they expire for such purposes. Until they expire, we can carry forward our NOLs (and certain related tax credits) that we do not use in any particular year to offset income tax in future years.  The benefits of our NOLs would be reduced or eliminated if we experience an “ownership change,” as determined under Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code. A Section 382 “ownership change” occurs if a stockholder or a group of stockholders who are deemed to own at least 5% of our common stock increase their ownership by more than 50 percentage points over their lowest ownership percentage within a rolling three-year period. If an “ownership change” occurs, Section 382 would impose an annual limit on the amount of NOLs we can use to offset income tax equal to the product of the total value of our outstanding equity immediately prior to the “ownership change” (reduced by certain items specified in Section 382) and the federal long-term tax-exempt interest rate in effect for the month of the “ownership change.” A number of special rules apply to calculating this annual limit.

 

While the complexity of Section 382’s provisions and the limited knowledge any public company has about the ownership of its publicly-traded stock make it difficult to determine whether an “ownership change” has occurred, we currently believe that an “ownership change” has not occurred. However, if an “ownership change” were to occur, the annual limit Section 382 may impose could result in a material amount of our NOLs expiring unused. This would significantly impair the value of our NOL assets and, as a result, have a negative impact on our financial position and results of operations.  Subsequent to year-end, we amended our articles of incorporation to enable us to nullify transactions creating additional 5% holders in an effort to mitigate the risk associated with ownership changes under Section 382.  Such restrictions, however, may be waived by us, and there is uncertainty about whether such restrictions would be enforceable or effective under all circumstances.

 

As a participant in the homebuilding industry, we are subject to its fluctuating cycles and other risks that can adversely impact the demand for, cost of and pricing of our homes.

 

The homebuilding industry is cyclical and is significantly affected by changes in economic and other conditions such as employment levels, availability of financing, interest rates, and consumer confidence. These factors can negatively affect demand for and cost of our homes. We are also subject to various risks, many of which are also outside of our control, including delays in construction schedules, cost overruns, changes in governmental regulations (such as “no-growth” or “slow-growth” initiatives), availability of land, availability of land option financing, increases in inventories of new and existing homes, increases in real estate taxes and other local government fees, and raw materials and labor costs.

 

We are also subject to the potential for significant variability and fluctuations in the cost and availability of real estate. Although our business model has been to develop parcels ranging from 100 to 300 lots, in order to achieve and maintain an adequate inventory of lots, in recent years we have acquired larger parcels with joint venture partners. Impairments of our real estate and write-offs of purchase and option contract deposits and pre-acquisition costs, including costs related to our joint ventures, were recorded during 2006, 2007 and 2008, and if market conditions continue to deteriorate, such impairments and write-offs may again be required in the future.

 

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The loss of key personnel may negatively impact us.

 

Our success largely depends on the continuing services of certain key employees, including our Chief Executive Officer, Steven J. Hilton, and our ability to attract and retain qualified personnel. We have an employment agreement with Mr. Hilton but we do not have employment agreements with certain other key employees. We believe that Mr. Hilton possesses valuable industry knowledge, experience and leadership abilities that would be difficult in the short term to replicate. In addition, Mr. Hilton has cultivated key contacts and relationships with important participants in the land acquisition, construction and development process in our various markets across the country. The loss of the services of Mr. Hilton and other key employees could harm our operations and business plans.

 

Shortages in the availability of subcontract labor may delay construction schedules and increase our costs.

 

We conduct our construction operations only as a general contractor. Virtually all architectural, construction and development work is performed by unaffiliated third-party subcontractors. As a consequence, we depend on the continued availability of and satisfactory performance by these subcontractors for the design and construction of our homes. We cannot assure you that there will be sufficient availability of and satisfactory performance by these unaffiliated third-party subcontractors. In addition, inadequate subcontractor resources could have a material adverse affect on our business.

 

Our lack of geographic diversification could adversely affect us if the homebuilding industry in our market declines.

 

We have operations in Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado and Florida. With the exception of Texas, our other geographic operations are some of the regions most severely impacted by the homebuilding downturn.  Our limited geographic diversification could adversely impact us if the homebuilding business in our current markets should continue to decline, since there may not be a balancing opportunity in a stronger market in other geographic regions.

 

Our future operations may be adversely impacted by high inflation.

 

We, like other homebuilders, may be adversely affected during periods of high inflation, mainly from higher land and construction and materials costs. Also, higher mortgage interest rates may significantly affect the affordability of mortgage financing to prospective buyers. Inflation increases our cost of financing, materials and labor and could cause our financial results or growth to decline. Traditionally, we have attempted to pass cost increases on to our customers through higher sales prices. Although inflation has not historically had a material adverse effect on our business, sustained increases in material costs would have a material adverse effect on our business if we are unable to correspondingly increase home sale prices.

 

We experience fluctuations and variability in our operating results on a quarterly basis and, as a result, our historical performance may not be a meaningful indicator of future results.

 

We historically have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, variability in home sales and results of operations on a quarterly basis. As a result of such variability, our historical performance may not be a meaningful indicator of future results. Factors that contribute to this variability include:

 

·                  timing of home deliveries and land sales;

 

·                  delays in construction schedules due to strikes, adverse weather, acts of God, reduced subcontractor availability and governmental restrictions;

 

·                  our ability to acquire additional land or options for additional land on acceptable terms;

 

·                  timing of write-offs and impairments

 

·                  conditions of the real estate market in areas where we operate and of the general economy;

 

·                  the cyclical nature of the homebuilding industry, changes in prevailing interest rates and the availability of mortgage financing; and

 

·                  costs and availability of materials and labor.

 

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Our substantial level of indebtedness may adversely affect our financial position and prevent us from fulfilling our debt obligations.

 

The homebuilding industry is capital intensive and requires significant up-front expenditures to secure land and begin development and construction. Accordingly, we incur substantial indebtedness to finance our homebuilding activities. At December 31, 2008, we had approximately $629.0 million of indebtedness and other borrowings. If we require working capital greater than that provided by operations or available under our senior unsecured credit facility (“Credit Facility”), we may be required to seek additional capital in the form of equity or debt financing from a variety of potential sources, including bank financing and securities offerings. There can be no assurance we would be able to obtain such additional capital on terms acceptable to us, if at all. The level of our indebtedness could have important consequences to our stockholders, including the following:

 

·                  our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, acquisitions or general corporate purposes may be impaired;

 

·                  we must use a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to pay interest and principal on our indebtedness, which reduces the funds available to us for other purposes such as capital expenditures;

 

·                  we have a higher level of indebtedness and a lower volume of cash and cash equivalents than some of our competitors, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage and reduce our flexibility in planning for, or responding to, changing conditions in our industry, including increased competition; and

 

·                  we may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and adverse developments in our business than some of our competitors.

 

We expect to generate cash flow to pay our expenses and to pay the principal and interest on our indebtedness with cash flow from operations. Our ability to meet our expenses thus depends on our future performance, which will be affected by financial, business, economic and other factors. We will not be able to control many of these factors, such as economic conditions in the markets where we operate and pressure from competitors.

 

We cannot be certain that our cash flow will be sufficient to allow us to pay principal and interest on our debt and meet our other obligations. If we do not have sufficient funds, we may be required to refinance all or part of our existing debt, sell assets or borrow additional funds. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so on terms acceptable to us, if at all. In addition, the terms of existing or future debt agreements may restrict us from pursuing any of these alternatives.

 

Our financial leverage may place burdens on our ability to comply with the terms of our debt and may restrict our ability to complete certain transactions.

 

The indentures for our senior and senior subordinated notes and the agreement for our Credit Facility impose significant operating and financial restrictions on us. These restrictions limit our ability and the ability of our subsidiaries, among other things, to:

 

·                  incur additional indebtedness or liens;

 

·                  pay dividends or make other distributions;

 

·                  repurchase our stock;

 

·                  make investments (including investments in joint ventures); or

 

·                  consolidate, merge or sell all or substantially all of our assets.

 

In addition, the indentures for our 7% senior notes and the agreement for our Credit Facility require us to maintain a minimum consolidated tangible net worth and our Credit Facility requires us to maintain other specified financial ratios, including the amount and types of land, speculative housing and model homes that we may own at any given time. We cannot assure you that these covenants will not adversely affect our ability to finance our future operations or capital needs or to pursue available business opportunities. A breach of any of these covenants or our inability to maintain the required financial ratios could result in a default in respect of the related indebtedness. If a default occurs, the affected lenders could elect to declare the indebtedness, together with accrued interest and other fees, to be immediately due and payable.

 

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We may need to amend our existing debt instruments or raise new equity in order to fund our future operations.

 

Although we recently amended our Credit Facility to give us more operational flexibility with respect to our debt covenants, if market conditions continue to deteriorate or continue for a period of time that is longer than anticipated, we may be unable to comply with these covenants and may need to seek further amendments, waivers or forbearance, in respect of our Credit Facility, or may need to refinance the facility. We may also need to raise new equity to fund our business plan. There can be no assurance that we will be able to obtain any amendments, waivers or forbearance when, as and if needed, nor can there be any assurance that we would be able to raise new equity or find new lenders willing to refinance on terms acceptable to us, or at all. Any amended facilities could be on terms that are both more expensive and more restrictive than our current facility.

 

We may also seek to increase our equity through the issuance of additional equity. Any issuance would dilute the interests of current stockholders, which could adversely affect our stock price.

 

We may not be successful in integrating future acquisitions.

 

We may continue to consider growth or expansion of our operations in our current markets or in other areas of the country. Our expansion into new or existing markets could have a material adverse effect on our cash flows and/or profitability. The magnitude, timing and nature of any future expansion will depend on a number of factors, including suitable acquisition candidates, the negotiation of acceptable terms, our financial capabilities and general economic and business conditions. New acquisitions may result in the incurrence of additional debt. Acquisitions also involve numerous risks, including difficulties in the assimilation of the acquired company’s operations, the incurrence of unanticipated liabilities or expenses, the diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns, risks of entering markets in which we have limited or no direct experience and the potential loss of key employees of the acquired company. Our expansion into Reno and our acquisition of Colonial Homes in Ft. Myers in 2005 were not successful due to the dramatic downturn in the homebuilding industry, and we have wound down operations in these markets.

 

We are subject to extensive government regulations that could cause us to incur significant liabilities or restrict our business activities.

 

Regulatory requirements could cause us to incur significant liabilities and costs and could restrict our business activities. We are subject to local, state and federal statutes and rules regulating certain developmental matters, as well as building and site design. We are subject to various fees and charges of government authorities designed to defray the cost of providing certain governmental services and improvements. We may be subject to additional costs and delays or may be precluded entirely from building projects because of “no-growth” or “slow-growth” initiatives, building permit ordinances, building moratoriums, or similar government regulations that could be imposed in the future due to health, safety, welfare or environmental concerns. We must also obtain licenses, permits and approvals from government agencies to engage in certain activities, the granting or receipt of which are beyond our control and could cause delays in our homebuilding projects.

 

We are also subject to a variety of local, state and federal statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations concerning the protection of health and the environment. Environmental laws or permit restrictions may result in project delays, may cause substantial compliance and other costs and may prohibit or severely restrict development in certain environmentally sensitive regions or geographic areas. Environmental regulations can also have an adverse impact on the availability and price of certain raw materials, such as lumber.

 

Acts of war may seriously harm our business.

 

Acts of war or any outbreak or escalation of hostilities between the United States and any foreign power may cause disruption to the economy, our company, our employees and our customers, which could impact our revenue, costs and expenses and financial condition.

 

Our business may be negatively impacted by natural disasters.

 

We have homebuilding operations in Texas, California and Florida. Some of our markets in Texas and Florida occasionally experience extreme weather conditions such as tornadoes and/or hurricanes. California has experienced a significant number of earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, landslides and other natural disasters in recent years. We do not insure against some of these risks. These occurrences could damage or destroy some of our homes under construction or our building lots, which may result in losses that exceed our insurance coverage. We could also suffer significant construction delays or substantial fluctuations in the pricing or availability of building materials. Any of these events could cause a decrease in our revenue, cash flows and earnings.

 

Any of these factors could have a material adverse effect on your investment in our common stock. As a result, you could lose some or all of your investment.

 

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Special Note of Caution Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

 

In passing the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (“PSLRA”), Congress encouraged public companies to make “forward-looking statements” by creating a safe-harbor to protect companies from securities law liability in connection with forward-looking statements. We intend to qualify both our written and oral forward-looking statements for protection under the PSLRA.

 

The words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “forecast,” “plan,” “estimate,” and “project” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date the statement was made. All statements we make other than statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements within the meaning of that term in Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Exchange Act. Forward-looking statements in this Annual Report include statements concerning our belief that we have ample liquidity if current market conditions persist or become more pronounced, and that on a very limited basis, we will be able to take advantage of unique opportunities in select markets; our belief that buyers will defer purchasing decisions until prices stabilize or bottom; that sales prices will continue to adversely affect closings in California and Nevada into 2009; our belief that the impact of the downturn will be less severe in our Texas communities; our belief that current conditions could continue or worsen during 2009 and that our operations will remain depressed until the homebuilding industry and economy as a whole begin to rebound; our strategy to re-design our products with lower price points; our delivery of substantially all of our backlog existing as of year end; our plans or goals for unsold homes inventory reduction, lot supply reduction, generating positive cash flow and using it for cash reserves, as well as management’s intention to operate conservatively, strengthen our balance sheet and improve liquidity; management estimates regarding future impairments and joint venture exposure, including our exposure to joint ventures that are in default of their debt agreements; whether certain guarantees relating to our joint ventures will be triggered and our belief that reimbursements due from lenders to our joint ventures will be repaid; expectations regarding our industry and our business into 2009 and beyond, including that our margins over the next several quarters will be negatively impacted by increased incentives and positively impacted by our cost savings initiatives; the demand for and the pricing of our homes; our land and lot acquisition strategy (including that we may limit lot purchases until our sales pace recovers and that on a limited basis we expect to continue to participate in joint ventures as opportunities arise); demographic and other trends related to the homebuilding industry in general; the future supply of housing inventory; our expectation that existing guarantees, letters of credit and performance and surety bonds will not be drawn on; the adequacy of our insurance coverage and warranty reserves; the expected outcome of legal proceedings we are involved in; the sufficiency of our capital resources to support our business strategy; our ability and willingness to acquire land under option or contract; the future impact of deferred tax assets or liabilities; the impact of new accounting pronouncements and changes in accounting estimates; trends and expectations concerning sales prices, sales orders, cancellations and gross margins and future home inventories; our future cash needs; the expected vesting periods of unrecognized compensation expense; that we will realize tax refunds in 2009; trends and expectations relating to our community count; and our future compliance with debt covenants and actions we may take with respect thereto.

 

Important factors currently known to management that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in forward-looking statements, and that could negatively affect our business are discussed in this report under the heading “Risk Factors.”

 

Forward-looking statements express expectations of future events. All forward-looking statements are inherently uncertain as they are based on various expectations and assumptions concerning future events and they are subject to numerous known and unknown risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events or results to differ materially from those projected. Due to these inherent uncertainties, the investment community is urged not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. In addition, we undertake no obligations to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of unanticipated events or changes to projections over time. As a result of these and other factors, our stock and note prices may fluctuate dramatically.

 

Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments

 

None.

 

Item 2. Properties

 

Our corporate offices are leased properties located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The lease expires in March 2014.

 

We lease an aggregate of approximately 351,000 square feet of office space (of which approximately 83,000 square feet is subleased) in our markets for our operating divisions, corporate and executive offices.

 

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Item 3. Legal Proceedings

 

We are involved in various routine legal and regulatory proceedings, including claims or litigation alleging construction defects.  In general, the proceedings are incidental to our business, and some are covered by insurance. With respect to the majority of pending litigation matters, our ultimate legal and financial responsibility, if any, cannot be estimated with certainty and, in most cases, any potential losses related to these matters are not considered probable. At December 31, 2008, we had approximately $4.2 million in accrued legal expenses and settlement costs reserved for losses related to litigation and asserted claims where our ultimate exposure is considered probable and the potential loss can be reasonably estimated. We believe that none of these matters will have a material adverse impact upon our consolidated financial condition, results of operations or cash flows.

 

As previously reported on Form 8-K filed on September 29, 2008, we were awarded more than $111 million in a unanimous jury verdict in Federal District Court in Phoenix against Greg Hancock, a former division president of Meritage Homes.  In 2001, Mr. Hancock sold his homebuilding business to us, at which time he concurrently entered into an employment agreement with us.  The jury found that Mr. Hancock breached contractual and fiduciary duties owed to us and committed fraud against us by engaging in side businesses that stole corporate opportunities and goodwill belonging to us while he was president of our Phoenix division.  The verdict is subject to customary post-trial motions and appeals.  We are confident the verdict and judgment will stand and intend to vigorously pursue various collection options to recover the award from Mr. Hancock.  The timing and ultimate amount of any collections, however, cannot be predicted at this time and, therefore, we have not recorded any receivables related to this award. Subsequent to the jury award, Mr. Hancock filed a voluntary petition for Bankruptcy, under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona; Case No. 2:08-bk-14253-GBN), which had the effect of staying post-trial motions and appeals as well as our collection efforts.

 

On October 10, 2008, we were named as a defendant in a lawsuit titled Wachovia Bank, National Association v. Focus Kyle Group, LLC et al. (Case No. 08 CIV 8621) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  The plaintiff alleges that we are severally liable under a completion guaranty executed by us in favor of the plaintiff related to an approximately 1,700 acre real estate development near Las Vegas that was owned by a joint venture in which we hold an approximate 4% ownership interest.  The joint venture entered into a $565 million credit facility with the plaintiff and used the proceeds to acquire the real property and pay expenses related to the project.  The joint venture subsequently defaulted on certain of its obligations under its credit facility, and the plaintiff foreclosed on and took possession of the entire project.  The complaint alleges that the joint venture members are severally liable under their individual completion guaranties, which include obligations to complete development of the project and pay certain costs, obligations and damages relating thereto.  Meritage and, we believe, our joint venture partners dispute the plaintiff’s allegations that any amounts are owed under completion guaranties.  We are in the process of preparing our response to the complaint and intend to vigorously defend against this claim.

 

On December 5, 2008, we were named as a defendant in a lawsuit titled JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association v. Meritage Homes of Nevada, Inc. and Meritage Homes Corporation (Case No. 2:08-cv- 1717) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada (“Nevada Action”) and JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Association v. Meritage Homes of Nevada, Inc. and Meritage Homes Corporation (Case No. 08 CIV 10522) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (“NY Action”).

 

In the NY Action, the plaintiff alleges that we are severally liable under a completion guaranty executed by us in favor of the plaintiff related to a 1,940 acre planned community located in Henderson, Nevada.  JPMorgan filed seven separate but substantively identical lawsuits against the joint venture partners and their parents. We hold an approximate 3.56% ownership interest in the joint venture.  The joint venture entered into a $535 million credit facility with the plaintiff and used the proceeds to acquire the real property and complete certain improvements and pay expenses related to the project.  The joint venture subsequently defaulted on certain of its obligations under its credit facility. The complaint alleges that the joint venture members are severally liable under their individual completion guaranties, which allegedly include obligations to complete development of the project and pay certain costs, obligations and damages relating thereto.  Meritage and the joint venture members dispute the plaintiff’s allegations that any amounts are owed under completion guaranties.  We have moved to transfer the case to Nevada and are awaiting a decision by the court.  We intend to vigorously defend against this claim.

 

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Item 4. Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders

 

No matters were submitted to a vote of security holders during the quarter ended December 31, 2008.  See Note 17, Subsequent Events to the consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, for a discussion of a matter submitted to a shareholder vote subsequent to December 31, 2008.

 

Executive Officers of the Registrant

 

The executive officers of the Company are elected each year at a meeting of the Board of Directors, which follows the annual meeting of the stockholders, and at other Board of Directors meetings as appropriate.

 

The names, ages, positions and business experience of our executive officers are listed below (all ages are as of March 1, 2009). There are no understandings between any of our executive officers and any other person pursuant to which any executive officer was selected to his office.

 

Name

 

Age

 

Position

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steven J. Hilton

 

47

 

Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer

 

Larry W. Seay

 

53

 

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President

 

C. Timothy White

 

48

 

General Counsel, Executive Vice President and Secretary

 

Steven M. Davis

 

50

 

Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President

 

 

Steven J. Hilton co-founded Monterey Homes in 1985, which merged with our predecessor in December 1996. Mr. Hilton served as Co-Chairman and CEO from July 1997 to May 2006 and has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since May 2006.

 

Larry W. Seay has been Chief Financial Officer since December 1996 and was appointed Executive Vice President in October 2005. Mr. Seay served as Secretary from 1997 to October 2005.

 

C. Timothy White has been General Counsel, Executive Vice President and Secretary since October 2005 and served on our Board of Directors from December 1996 until October 2005.  From October 2002 to September 2005, Mr. White was a partner with the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP.  Mr. White served as our outside counsel from 1991 through September 2005.

 

Steven M. Davis has been Executive Vice President of National Home Building Operations since October 2006.  From 2000 to September 2006, Mr. Davis was employed by KBHome as a Regional General Manager, with various other management roles at KBHome from 1995 to 2000.

 

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PART II

 

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Our common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) under the symbol “MTH”. The high and low sales prices per share of our common stock for the periods indicated, as reported by the NYSE, follow.

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

Quarter Ended

 

High

 

Low

 

High

 

Low

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 31

 

$

21.30

 

$

7.04

 

$

47.73

 

$

30.66

 

June 30

 

$

24.49

 

$

14.82

 

$

38.72

 

$

26.54

 

September 30

 

$

29.49

 

$

12.18

 

$

26.97

 

$

13.88

 

December 31

 

$

25.69

 

$

5.10

 

$

17.98

 

$

12.00

 

 

The following Performance Graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any filing under the Securities Act of 1933 or Securities Exchange Act of 1934, each as amended, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference into such filing.

 

 

 

 

2003

 

2004

 

2005

 

2006

 

2007

 

2008

 

Meritage Homes Corp

 

100

 

170

 

190

 

144

 

44

 

37

 

S&P 500 Index

 

100

 

109

 

112

 

128

 

132

 

81

 

Dow Jones US Home Construction Index

 

100

 

136

 

156

 

124

 

55

 

37

 

 

On February 25, 2009, the closing sales price of our common stock as reported by the NYSE was $10.44 per share. At that date, there were approximately 360 owners of record and approximately 5,000 beneficial owners of common stock.

 

The transfer agent for our common stock is BNY Mellon Shareowner Services, 480 Washington Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07310 (www.bnymellon.com/shareowner/isd).

 

We have not declared cash dividends for the past ten years, nor do we intend to declare cash dividends in the foreseeable future. We plan to retain our earnings to finance the continuing development of the business. Future cash dividends, if any, will depend upon our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, compliance with certain restrictive debt covenants, as well as other factors considered relevant by our Board of Directors. Certain of our debt instruments contain restrictions on the payment of cash dividends. See “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources” and Note 5 — Loans Payable and Other Borrowings and Note 6 — Senior and Senior Subordinated Notes, in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.

 

Reference is made to Note 10 in the accompanying consolidated financial statements for a description of our equity compensation plans.

 

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Reference is made to Part I, Item 1A, of this Annual Report for risks relating to ownership of our common stock.

 

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

We did not acquire any shares of our common stock during the three months ended December 31, 2008.

 

On February 21, 2006, we announced that the Board of Directors approved a stock repurchase program, authorizing the expenditure of up to $100 million to repurchase shares of our common stock.  In August 2006, the Board of Directors authorized an additional $100 million under this program.  There is no stated expiration date for this program.  In the first quarter of 2006, we repurchased 255,000 shares at an average price of $53.77 under this program.  In the second quarter of 2006, we repurchased 1,000,000 shares from John R. Landon, our former Co-CEO and Co-Chairman, for $52.19 per share.  In August 2006, we repurchased 100,000 shares at an average price of $38.96 per share.  As of December 31, 2007 and 2008, we had approximately $130.2 million available to repurchase shares under this program.  We have no plans to purchase additional shares under this program in the foreseeable future.

 

Item 6. Selected Financial Data

 

The following table presents selected historical consolidated financial and operating data of Meritage Homes Corporation and subsidiaries as of and for each of the last five years ended December 31, 2008. The financial data has been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes for the periods presented.  This table should be read in conjunction with “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report. These historical results may not be indicative of future results.

 

The data in the table includes the operations of Citation Homes, Colonial Homes and Greater Homes since their dates of acquisition, January 2004, February 2005 and September 2005, respectively.

 

 

 

Historical Consolidated Financial Data

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

($ in thousands, except per share amounts)

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

2004

 

Statement of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total closing revenue

 

$

1,523,068

 

$

2,343,594

 

$

3,461,320

 

$

3,001,102

 

$

2,040,004

 

Total cost of closings

 

(1,322,544

)

(1,990,190

)

(2,670,422

)

(2,294,112

)

(1,631,534

)

Impairments

 

(237,439

)

(340,358

)

(78,268

)

 

 

Gross (loss)/profit

 

(36,915

)

13,046

 

712,630

 

706,990

 

408,470

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissions and other sales costs

 

(136,860

)

(196,464

)

(216,341

)

(160,114

)

(116,527

)

General and administrative expenses

 

(68,231

)

(106,161

)

(164,477

)

(124,979

)

(79,257

)

Goodwill and intangible asset impairments

 

(1,133

)

(130,490

)

 

 

 

(Loss)/Earnings from unconsolidated entities, net (1)

 

(17,038

)

(40,229

)

20,364

 

18,337

 

2,788

 

Interest expense

 

(23,653

)

(6,745

)

 

 

 

Other income, net

 

7,864

 

10,561

 

11,833

 

7,468

 

9,284

 

Loss on extinguishment of debt

 

 

 

 

(31,477

)

 

(Loss)/Earnings before income taxes

 

(275,966

)

(456,482

)

364,009

 

416,225

 

224,758

 

(Provision)/benefit for income taxes

 

(15,969

)

167,631

 

(138,655

)

(160,560

)

(85,790

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net (loss)/earnings

 

$

(291,935

)

$

(288,851

)

$

225,354

 

$

255,665

 

$

138,968

 

 

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Historical Consolidated Financial Data
Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

($ in thousands, except per share amounts)

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

 

2004

 

(Loss)/Earnings per common share: (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

$

(9.95

)

$

(11.01

)

$

8.52

 

$

9.48

 

$

5.33

 

Diluted

 

$

(9.95

)

$

(11.01

)

$

8.32

 

$

8.88

 

$

5.03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Balance Sheet Data (December 31):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Real estate

 

$

859,305

 

$

1,267,879

 

$

1,530,602

 

$

1,390,803

 

$

867,218

 

Total assets

 

$

1,326,249

 

$

1,748,381

 

$

2,170,525

 

$

1,971,357

 

$

1,265,394

 

Senior and senior subordinated notes, loans payable and other borrowings

 

$

628,968

 

$

729,875

 

$

733,276

 

$

592,124

 

$

471,415

 

Total liabilities

 

$

799,043

 

$

1,018,217

 

$

1,163,693

 

$

1,120,352

 

$

742,839

 

Stockholders’ equity

 

$

527,206

 

$

730,164

 

$

1,006,832

 

$

851,005

 

$

522,555

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash Flow Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash provided by/(used in):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating activities

 

$

199,829

 

$

(20,613

)

$

(21,964

)

$

72,243

 

$

63,869

 

Investing activities

 

(23,263

)

(9,677

)

(57,720

)

(247,427

)

(85,502

)

Financing activities

 

1,680

 

1,257

 

70,582

 

193,120

 

64,710

 

 


(1)          Loss from unconsolidated entities in 2008 and 2007 includes $26.0 million and $57.9 million, respectively, of joint venture investment impairments.  Refer to Notes 1, 2 and 4 of our consolidated financial statements for more detail.

 

(2)          2004 amounts have been adjusted to reflect a 2-for-1 stock split in the form of a stock dividend that occurred in January 2005. There were no cash dividends paid during 2004-2008.

 

Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

Overview and Outlook

 

Industry Conditions

 

During 2008, the financial crisis and economic recession further exacerbated the existing downturn in the homebuilding market and resulted in additional downward pressure on home sales and asset values.  Based on statistics from the Mortgage Bankers Association, processed foreclosures reached approximately 1.4 million in the last quarter of 2008 as compared to an average of about 500,000 per quarter during 2000-2007.  These record-high foreclosure rates intensified competition for homebuyers in an already saturated marketplace with the influx of existing homes inventory, coupled with the lack of availability of mortgage financing resulting from the turmoil in the financial industry.  Concern about the state of the economy and the job market further deteriorated consumer confidence, as unemployment rates rose in almost all of the metropolitan areas tracked by the U.S. Department of Labor, ending 2008 with a national average of 6.5% as compared to 4.5% in the prior year.  We believe that the tepid demand we are experiencing reflects homebuyers’ reluctance to make a purchasing decision until they are comfortable that the price declines are near bottom and that economic conditions have stabilized.  We believe the current conditions could continue, and potentially worsen during 2009, and we expect that our operations will continue to remain depressed until the homebuilding industry and economy as a whole begin to rebound.

 

Summary Company Results

 

Our results for the year ended December 31, 2008 reflect the continued deterioration in the homebuilding and credit industries, as well as the recession that has impacted the U.S. economy during 2008.

 

Total home closing revenue was $1.5 billion for the year ended December 31, 2008, decreasing 35.5% from $2.3 billion for 2007 and 56.3% from $3.4 billion in 2006. We incurred a net loss for 2008 of ($291.9) million compared to a loss of ($288.9) million in 2007 and earnings of $225.4 million in 2006. Our 2008 results include $263.4 million (pre-tax) of real estate-related impairments and a $118.6 million deferred tax valuation allowance charge.  In 2007, we incurred $130.5 million (pre-tax) of goodwill-related impairments and $398.3 million (pre-tax) of real estate-related impairments and in 2006, we had $78.3 million (pre-tax) of real estate impairments.  Lower average home prices from competitive pressures and the

 

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increased use of incentives over the last two years lowered gross margins generated on home closings to 0.4% in 2008, from 1.1% and 20.7%, respectively, in 2007 and 2006.

 

At December 31, 2008, our backlog of approximately $338.0 million was down 49.5% from $670.0 million at December 31, 2007.  Our December 31, 2006 backlog was $1.2 billion.  Fewer home sales, compounded by increased price concessions and incentives and higher cancellation rates, were primarily responsible for these declines.  Our average sales price for homes in backlog decreased from $325,700 at December 31, 2006 to $292,800 at December 31, 2007 and was $263,900 at December 31, 2008. Our cancellation rate on sales orders remained above our historical rates and was 35.3%, 37.1% and 35.2%, respectively, as a percentage of gross sales, for the years ended December 31, 2008, 2007 and 2006.  We do not expect that cancellation rates will begin to stabilize and begin to trend back to normal historical levels until the excess supply of existing home inventory is absorbed and home prices start to level.

 

Company Actions and Positioning

 

In response to industry conditions, we are focusing on the following initiatives:

 

·                  Winding down under-performing operations and consolidating overhead functions at all of our divisions and corporate offices to reduce general and administrative cost burden;

 

·                  Reducing our total lot supply by renegotiating or opting out of lot purchase and option contracts;

 

·                  Limiting unsold home inventory;

 

·                  Redesigning product offering to reduce sales prices and improve affordability;

 

·                  Exercising tight control over cash flows;

 

·                  Changing sales and marketing efforts to generate additional traffic;

 

·                  Renegotiating construction costs with our subcontractors where possible; and

 

·                  Monitoring our customer satisfaction scores and making improvements based on the results of the surveys

 

Our Credit Facility matures in May 2011.  In July 2008, we amended our Credit Facility to: (i) eliminate the individual quarterly interest coverage test, (ii) provide additional cushion by relaxing the minimum interest coverage, maximum leverage and tangible net worth covenants, (iii) reduce the borrowing capacity to $500 million from $800 million, (iv) increase the applicable interest rate by up to 100 basis points, (v) increase the unused commitment fee by 10 basis points depending on the Company’s leverage ratio (as defined in the Credit Agreement), (vi) modify the advance rates by 5% to 15% for various components and reduce the maximum amounts of certain types of real estate that may be owned at any given time, and (vii) modify various other terms.

 

Critical Accounting Policies

 

We have established various accounting policies that govern the application of United States generally accepted accounting principles (“GAAP”) in the preparation and presentation of our consolidated financial statements. Our significant accounting policies are described in Note 1 of these consolidated financial statements. Certain of these policies involve significant judgments, assumptions and estimates by management that may have a material impact on the carrying value of certain assets and liabilities, and revenue and costs. We are subject to uncertainties such as the impact of future events, economic, environmental and political factors and changes in our business environment; therefore, actual results could differ from these estimates. Accordingly, the accounting estimates used in the preparation of our financial statements will change as new events occur, as more experience is acquired, as additional information is obtained and as our operating environment changes. Changes in estimates are revised when circumstances warrant. Such changes in estimates and refinements in methodologies are reflected in our reported results of operations and, if material, the effects of changes in estimates are disclosed in the notes to our consolidated financial statements. The judgments, assumptions and estimates we use and believe to be critical to our business are based on historical experience, knowledge of the accounts and other factors, which we believe to be reasonable under the circumstances. Because of the nature of the judgments and assumptions we have made, actual results may differ from these judgments and estimates, which could have a material impact on the carrying values of assets and liabilities and the results of our operations, particularly as related to our ability to accurately estimate tax valuation allowances, stock-based compensation, accruals, or impairments of real estate that could result in charges, or income, in future periods, which relate to activities or transactions in a preceding period.

 

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The accounting policies that we deem most critical to us, and involve the most difficult, subjective or complex judgments, are as follows:

 

Revenue Recognition

 

In accordance with Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (“SFAS”) No. 66, Accounting for Sales of Real Estate, we recognize revenue from home sales when title passes to the homeowner, the homeowner’s initial and continuing investment is adequate to demonstrate a commitment to pay for the home, the receivable, if any, from the homeowner is not subject to future subordination and we do not have a substantial continuing involvement with the sold home.  These conditions are typically achieved when a home closes.

 

Revenue from land sales is recognized when a significant down payment is received, the earnings process is relatively complete, title passes and collectibility of the receivable is reasonably assured.

 

Real Estate

 

Real estate is stated at cost unless the community or land is determined to be impaired, at which point the inventory is written down to fair value as required by SFAS No. 144, Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets (“SFAS No. 144”)Inventory includes the costs of land acquisition, land development and home construction, capitalized interest, real estate taxes, direct overhead costs incurred during development and home construction that benefit the entire community and impairments, if any.  Land and development costs are typically allocated to individual lots on a relative value basis and are transferred to homes under construction when construction begins.  Home construction costs are accumulated on a per-home basis.  Cost of home closings includes the specific construction costs of the home and all related land acquisition, land development and other common costs (both incurred and estimated to be incurred) based upon the total number of homes expected to be closed in each community or phase.  Any changes to the estimated total development costs of a community or phase are allocated on a relative value basis to the remaining homes in the community or phase.  When a home closes, we may have incurred costs for goods and services that have not yet been paid.  In such cases, an accrual to capture such obligations is recorded in connection with the home closing and charged directly to cost of sales.

 

Typically, a community’s life cycle ranges from three to five years, commencing with the acquisition of the entitled land and continuing through the land development phase and concluding with the sale, construction and closing of the homes.  Actual community lives will vary based on the size of the community, the absorption rates and whether the land purchased was raw or finished lots.  Master-planned communities encompassing several phases and super-block land parcels may have significantly longer lives and projects involving finished lot purchases may be significantly shorter.  Additionally, the current slow-down in the housing market has negatively impacted our sales pace, thereby extending the lives of certain communities.

 

In accordance with SFAS No. 144, all of our land inventory and related real estate assets are reviewed for recoverability when impairment indicators are present, as our inventory is considered “long-lived” in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. If an asset is deemed not recoverable, SFAS No. 144 requires impairment charges to be recorded if the fair value of such assets is less than their carrying amounts.  Our determination of fair value is based on projections and estimates.  Changes in these expectations may lead to a change in the outcome of our impairment analysis.  Our analysis is completed on a quarterly basis at a community level with each community or land parcel evaluated individually.  We pay particular attention to communities experiencing a larger-than-anticipated reduction in their absorption rates or averages sales prices.  For those assets deemed to be impaired, the impairment to be recognized is measured by the amount by which the assets’ carrying amount exceeds their fair value.  The impairment of a community is allocated to each lot on a straight-line basis.

 

Existing and continuing communities:  When projections for the remaining income expected to be earned from existing communities are no longer positive, the underlying real estate assets are deemed not fully recoverable, and further analysis is performed to determine the required impairment.  With each community or land parcel evaluated individually, the fair value of the community’s assets is determined using either a discounted cash flow model for projects we intend to build out or a market-based approach for projects we intend to sell or that are in the preliminary development stage and product types have not yet been finalized.  Impairments are charged to cost of home closings in the period during which the fair value is less than the assets’ carrying amount.  If a market-based approach is used, we determine fair value based on recent comparable purchase and sales activity in the local market, adjusted for known variances as determined by our knowledge of the region and general real estate expertise. Our key estimates in deriving fair value under our cash flow model are (i) home selling prices in the community adjusted for current and expected sales discounts and incentives, (ii) costs related to the community - both land development and home construction - including costs spent to date and budgeted remaining costs to spend, (iii) projected sales absorption rates, reflecting any product mix change strategies implemented to stimulate the sales pace, (iv) alternative land uses including disposition of all or a portion of the land owned and (v) our discount rate, which is

 

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currently 14-16%.  These assumptions vary widely across different communities and geographies and are largely dependent on local market conditions.  Community-level factors that may impact our key estimates include:

 

·                     The presence and significance of local competitors, including their offered product type and competitive actions;

 

·                     Economic and related demographic conditions for the population of the surrounding community; and

 

·                    Desirability of the particular community, including unique amenities or other favorable or unfavorable attributes.

 

These local circumstances may significantly impact our assumptions and the resulting computation of fair value, and are, therefore, closely evaluated by our division personnel in their creation of the discounted cash flow models.  The models are also evaluated by regional and corporate personnel for consistency and integration, as decisions that affect pricing or absorption at one community may have resulting consequences for neighboring communities.  We typically do not project market improvements in our discounted cash flow models, but may do so in limited circumstances in the latter years of a long-lived master-planned community.

 

Option deposits and pre-acquisition costs: We also evaluate assets associated with future communities for impairments on a quarterly basis.  Using similar techniques described in the existing and continuing communities section above, we determine if the contributions to be generated by our future communities are acceptable to us.  If the projections indicate that a community is still profitable and generating acceptable margins, those assets are determined to be fully recoverable and no impairments are required.  In cases where we decide to abandon the project, we will fully impair all assets related to such project and will expense and accrue any additional costs that we are contractually obligated to incur.  We may also elect to continue with a project because it has positive future cash flows, even though it may not be generating an accounting profit, or because of other strategic factors.  In such cases, we will impair our pre-acquisition costs and deposits, as necessary, to record an impairment to bring the book value to fair value.

 

During 2008, we recorded $189.3 million of such impairment charges related to our home and land real estate inventories and real estate-related joint venture investments.  Additionally, we wrote off $74.1 million of deposits and pre-acquisition costs relating to projects that were no longer economically feasible.  Refer to Note 2 of these consolidated financial statements in this Annual Report on Form 10-K for further discussion regarding these impairments and the associated remaining fair values of impaired communities.

 

The impairment charges were based on our fair value calculations, which are affected by current market conditions, assumptions and expectations, all of which are highly subjective and may differ significantly from actual results if market conditions change.

 

Due to the volume of possible outcomes that can be generated from changes in the various model inputs for each community, we do not believe it is possible to create a sensitivity analysis that can provide meaningful information for the users of our financial statements.

 

Warranty Reserves

 

We use subcontractors for nearly all aspects of home construction.  Although our subcontractors are generally required to repair and replace any product or labor defects, we are ultimately responsible to the homeowner for making such repairs.  As such, warranty reserves are recorded to cover our exposure to absorb the costs for materials and labor not expected to be covered by our subcontractors as they relate to warranty-type claims subsequent to the delivery of a home to the homeowner.  Reserves are reviewed on a regular basis and, with the assistance of an actuary, we determine their sufficiency based on our and industry-wide historical data and trends with respect to product types and geographical areas.

 

At December 31, 2008, our warranty reserve was $28.9 million, reflecting an accrual of 0.1% to 1.8% of a home’s sale price depending on our loss history in the geographic area in which the home was built.  A 10% increase in our warranty reserve rate would have increased our accrual and corresponding cost of sales by $1.1 million in 2008.  While we believe that the warranty reserve is sufficient to cover our projected costs, there can be no assurances that historical data and trends will accurately predict our actual warranty costs.  Furthermore, there can be no assurances that future economic or financial developments might not lead to a significant change in the reserve.

 

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Off-Balance Sheet Arrangements

 

During the normal course of business, we invest in entities that acquire and develop land for sale to us in connection with our homebuilding operations or for sale to third parties. Our partners generally are unaffiliated homebuilders, land sellers and financial or other strategic partners.

 

All unconsolidated entities through which we acquire and develop land are accounted for by either the cost or the equity method of accounting as the criteria for consolidation set forth in FASB Interpretation No. 46 (revised December 2003), Consolidation of Variable Interest Entities (“FIN 46R”) have not been met. We record our investments in these entities in our consolidated balance sheets as “Investments in unconsolidated entities” and our pro rata share of the entities’ earnings or losses in our consolidated statements of earnings as “(Loss)/earnings from unconsolidated entities, net.”

 

We determine if we are the primary beneficiary of, or have a controlling interest in, an unconsolidated entity.  Factors considered in our determination include the profit/loss sharing terms of the entity, experience and financial condition of the other partners, voting rights, involvement in day-to-day capital and operating decisions and continuing involvement.

 

As of December 31, 2008, we believe that the equity method of accounting is appropriate for our investments in unconsolidated entities where we are not the primary beneficiary, we do not have a controlling interest, and our ownership interest exceeds 20%.  At December 31, 2008, our equity investments of $16.4 million related to unconsolidated entities with total assets of $546.6 million and total liabilities of $392.4 million.  See Note 4 in the accompanying consolidated financial statements for additional information related to these investments.

 

We also enter into option or purchase agreements to acquire land or lots, for which we generally pay non-refundable deposits. We analyze these agreements under FIN 46R to determine whether we are the primary beneficiary of the variable interest entity (“VIE”), if applicable, using a model developed by management. If we are deemed to be the primary beneficiary of the VIE, we will consolidate the VIE in our consolidated financial statements. See Note 3 in the accompanying financial statements for additional information related to our off-balance-sheet arrangements.  In cases where we are the primary beneficiary, we consolidate these purchase/option agreements and reflect such assets and liabilities as “Real estate not owned” in our consolidated balance sheets.  The liabilities related to consolidated VIEs are excluded from our debt covenant calculations.

 

Valuation of Deferred Tax Assets

 

We account for income taxes using the asset and liability method, which requires that deferred tax assets and liabilities be recognized based on future tax consequences of both temporary differences between the financial statement carrying amounts of existing assets and liabilities and their respective tax bases.  Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply in the years in which the temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled.  The effect on deferred tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in earnings in the period when the changes are enacted.

 

In accordance with SFAS No. 109, “Accounting for Income Taxes” (“SFAS No. 109”), we evaluate our deferred tax assets, including net operating losses, to determine if a valuation is required.  SFAS No. 109 requires that companies assess whether a valuation allowance should be established based on the consideration of all available evidence using a “more likely than not” standard with significant weight being given to evidence that can be objectively verified.  This assessment considers, among other matters, the nature, frequency and severity of current and cumulative losses, forecasts of future profitability, the length of statutory carryforward periods, our experience with operating losses and tax credit carryforwards not expiring unused and tax planning alternatives.  Our current and prior year losses presented significant negative evidence that we needed to reduce our deferred tax assets with a valuation allowance.  Given the continued downturn in the homebuilding industry during 2008, the degree of the economic recession, the current instability and deterioration of the financial markets, and the resulting uncertainty in projections of our future taxable income, we determined the weight of the negative evidence exceeded that of the positive evidence during 2008 and that it was more likely than not that we would not be able to utilize all of our deferred tax assets.  Therefore, we have recorded a full valuation allowance on the remaining deferred tax asset balance, which increased losses from continuing operations by $118.6 million, or $(4.04) per share, during 2008.

 

Income tax receivable consisted of tax refunds that we expect to receive within one year.  Our income tax receivable balance at December 31, 2008 and 2007 was $111.5 million and $67.4 million, respectively.

 

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Share-Based Payments

 

We have stock options and restricted common stock units (“nonvested shares”) outstanding under two stock compensation plans.  Per the terms of these plans, the exercise price of our stock options may not be less than the closing market value of our common stock on the date of grant, nor may options granted under the plans be exercised within one year from the date of the grant.  After one year, exercises are permitted in pre-determined installments based upon a vesting schedule established at the time of grant.  Each stock option expires on a date determined at the time of the grant, but not to exceed seven years from the date of the grant.

 

The calculation of employee compensation expense involves estimates that require management judgments.  These estimates include determining the value of each of our stock options on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes option-pricing model discussed in Note 10 in the accompanying consolidated financial statements.  The fair value of our stock options, which typically vest ratably over a five-year period, is determined at the time of grant and is expensed on a straight-line basis over the vesting life of the options.  Expected volatility is based on a composite of historical volatility of our stock and implied volatility from our traded options.  The risk-free rate for periods within the contractual life of the stock option award is based on the rate of a zero-coupon Treasury bond on the date the stock option is granted with a maturity equal to the expected term of the stock option.  We use historical data to estimate stock option exercises and forfeitures within our valuation model.  The expected life of our stock option awards is derived from historical experience under our share-based payment plans and represents the period of time that we expect our stock options to be outstanding.  A 10% decrease in our forfeiture rate would have increased our stock compensation by approximately $320,000 in 2008.

 

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Home Closing Revenue, Home Orders and Order Backlog – Segment Analysis

 

The tables provided below show operating and financial data regarding our homebuilding activities (dollars in thousands).

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

Home Closing Revenue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

1,505,117

 

$

2,334,141

 

$

3,444,286

 

Homes closed

 

5,627

 

7,687

 

10,487

 

Average sales price

 

$

267.5

 

$

303.6

 

$

328.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

241,792

 

$

421,220

 

$

820,583

 

Homes closed

 

581

 

908

 

1,471

 

Average sales price

 

$

416.2

 

$

463.9

 

$

557.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

65,734

 

$

88,837

 

$

244,343

 

Homes closed

 

247

 

261

 

620

 

Average sales price

 

$

266.1

 

$

340.4

 

$

394.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region Totals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

307,526

 

$

510,057

 

$

1,064,926

 

Homes closed

 

828

 

1,169

 

2,091

 

Average sales price

 

$

371.4

 

$

436.3

 

$

509.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

271,646

 

$

567,888

 

$

1,102,662

 

Homes closed

 

1,084

 

1,718

 

3,355

 

Average sales price

 

$

250.6

 

$

330.6

 

$

328.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

783,835

 

$

1,043,160

 

$

996,739

 

Homes closed

 

3,217

 

4,164

 

4,263

 

Average sales price

 

$

243.7

 

$

250.5

 

$

233.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

50,213

 

$

60,069

 

$

40,875

 

Homes closed

 

145

 

160

 

112

 

Average sales price

 

$

346.3

 

$

375.4

 

$

365.0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region Totals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

1,105,694

 

$

1,671,117

 

$

2,140,276

 

Homes closed

 

4,446

 

6,042

 

7,730

 

Average sales price

 

$

248.7

 

$

276.6

 

$

276.9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

91,897

 

$

152,967

 

$

239,084

 

Homes closed

 

353

 

476

 

666

 

Average sales price

 

$

260.3

 

$

321.4

 

$

359.0

 

 

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Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

Home Orders (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

1,173,163

 

$

1,804,065

 

$

2,462,747

 

Homes ordered

 

4,620

 

6,290

 

7,778

 

Average sales price

 

$

253.9

 

$

286.8

 

$

316.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

194,170

 

$

372,936

 

$

529,435

 

Homes ordered

 

504

 

846

 

983

 

Average sales price

 

$

385.3

 

$

440.8

 

$

538.6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

53,527

 

$

85,772

 

$

139,668

 

Homes ordered

 

208

 

268

 

328

 

Average sales price

 

$

257.3

 

$

320.0

 

$

425.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region Totals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

247,697

 

$

458,708

 

$

669,103

 

Homes ordered

 

712

 

1,114

 

1,311

 

Average sales price

 

$

347.9

 

$

411.8

 

$

510.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

193,299

 

$

341,140

 

$

611,266

 

Homes ordered

 

884

 

1,203

 

1,833

 

Average sales price

 

$

218.7

 

$

283.6

 

$

333.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

629,639

 

$

845,348

 

$

1,069,437

 

Homes ordered

 

2,632

 

3,427

 

4,299

 

Average sales price

 

$

239.2

 

$

246.7

 

$

248.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

45,341

 

$

59,423

 

$

47,836

 

Homes ordered

 

136

 

168

 

125

 

Average sales price

 

$

333.4

 

$

353.7

 

$

382.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region Totals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

868,279

 

$

1,245,911

 

$

1,728,539

 

Homes ordered

 

3,652

 

4,798

 

6,257

 

Average sales price

 

$

237.8

 

$

259.7

 

$

276.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

57,187

 

$

99,446

 

$

65,105

 

Homes ordered

 

256

 

378

 

210

 

Average sales price

 

$

223.4

 

$

263.1

 

$

310.0

 

 


(1)                   Home orders for any period represent the aggregate sales price of all homes ordered by customer, net of cancellations.  We do not include orders contingent upon the sale of a customer’s existing home as a sales contract until the contingency is removed.

 

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Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

 

 

Beginning

 

Ending

 

Beginning

 

Ending

 

Beginning

 

Ending

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Active Communities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

220

 

178

 

213

 

220

 

184

 

213

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

27

 

12

 

26

 

27

 

20

 

26

 

Nevada

 

11

 

12

 

5

 

11

 

6

 

5

 

West Region Totals

 

38

 

24

 

31

 

38

 

26

 

31

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

36

 

31

 

42

 

36

 

35

 

42

 

Texas

 

127

 

109

 

121

 

127

 

108

 

121

 

Colorado

 

6

 

3

 

6

 

6

 

3

 

6

 

Central Region Totals

 

169

 

143

 

169

 

169

 

146

 

169

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region (Florida)

 

13

 

11

 

13

 

13

 

12

 

13

 

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

Cancellation Rates (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

35.3

%

37.1

%

35.2

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

33.2

%

36.0

%

28.1

%

Nevada

 

22.1

%

25.1

%

26.1

%

West Region Totals

 

30.3

%

33.7

%

27.6

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

25.6

%

34.8

%

37.0

%

Texas

 

39.6

%

39.2

%

34.6

%

Colorado

 

23.2

%

21.9

%

22.8

%

Central Region Totals

 

36.2

%

37.7

%

35.1

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Region (Florida)

 

35.8

%

39.2

%

62.1

%

 


(1)

Cancellation rates are computed as the number of cancelled units for the period divided by the gross sales units for the same period.

 

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Table of Contents

 

 

 

At December 31,

 

 

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

Order Backlog (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

338,031

 

$

669,985

 

$

1,200,061

 

Homes in backlog

 

1,281

 

2,288

 

3,685

 

Average sales price

 

$

263.9

 

$

292.8

 

$

325.7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

California

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

33,910

 

$

81,532

 

$

129,816

 

Homes in backlog

 

87

 

164

 

226

 

Average sales price

 

$

389.8

 

$

497.1

 

$

574.4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nevada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

6,453

 

$

18,660

 

$

21,725

 

Homes in backlog

 

25

 

64

 

57

 

Average sales price

 

$

258.1

 

$

291.6

 

$

381.1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Region Totals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

40,363

 

$

100,192

 

$

151,541

 

Homes in backlog

 

112

 

228

 

283

 

Average sales price

 

$

360.4

 

$

439.4

 

$

535.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Central Region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arizona

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

42,211

 

$

120,558

 

$

347,306

 

Homes in backlog

 

190

 

390

 

905

 

Average sales price

 

$

222.2

 

$

309.1

 

$

383.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dollars

 

$

230,155

 

$

384,351

 

$

582,163

 

Homes in backlog