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Forestar Group Inc. (NYSE:FOR) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript

Forestar Group Inc. (NYSE:FOR) Q2 2024 Earnings Call Transcript April 18, 2024

Forestar Group Inc. isn't one of the 30 most popular stocks among hedge funds at the end of the third quarter (see the details here).

Operator: Good afternoon, and welcome to Forestar's Second Quarter 2024 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. [Operator Instructions] Please note, this conference is being recorded. I will now turn the call over to Katie Smith, Director of Finance and Investor Relations for Forestar.

Katie Smith: Thank you, John. Good afternoon, and welcome to the call to discuss Forestar's second quarter results. Thank you for joining us. Before we get started, today's call includes forward-looking statements as defined by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Although, Forestar believes any such statements are based on reasonable assumptions, there is no assurance that actual outcomes will not be materially different. All forward-looking statements are based upon information available to Forestar on the date of this conference call, and we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements publicly. Additional information about factors that could lead to material changes in performance is contained in Forestar's annual report on Form 10-K and its most recent quarterly report on Form 10-Q, both of which are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Our earnings release is on our website at investor.forestar.com and we plan to file our 10-Q early next week. After this call, we will post an updated investor presentation to our Investor Relations site under Events and Presentations for your reference. Now, I will turn the call over to Andy Oxley, our President and CEO.

Andy Oxley: Thanks, Katie. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm also joined on the call today by Jim Allen, our Chief Financial Officer, and Mark Walker, our Chief Operating Officer. The Forestar team delivered a solid second quarter with net income increasing 67% to $45 million or $0.89 per diluted share. Our pre-tax income increased 64% to $58.9 million and our pre-tax profit margin improved 570 basis points to 17.6%. Consolidated revenues increased 11% to $333.8 million, while lots sold increased 10% to 3,289 lots. Forestar achieved a 14.9% return on equity for the trailing 12 months ending March 31, 2024. There is strong demand for developed lots and supply is still constrained in most markets. Forestar's unique blend of financial strength, operating expertise, and geographic reach positions us as a leading supplier of finished lots.

Over the last 90 days, I've been on the road visiting with our local teams, walking our active projects, and assessing our pipeline to better understand our strengths and opportunities. We have talented market leaders with a proven track record of producing results. Our current land portfolio offers attractive finished lot positions for builders, and our pipeline is full of opportunities supporting our future growth. We remain focused on investing in compelling land parcels, turning our inventory, maximizing returns, and consolidating market share in the highly-fragmented lot development industry. Jim will now discuss our second quarter financial results in more detail.

Jim Allen: Thank you, Andy. In the second quarter, net income increased 67% to $45 million, or $0.89 per diluted share, compared to $26.9 million, or $0.54 per diluted share in the prior-year quarter. Revenues for the quarter increased 11% to $333.8 million compared to $301.5 million in the prior-year quarter. Lots sold in our second fiscal quarter increased 10% to 3,289 lots with an average sales price of $98,400. Our average sales price was higher this quarter due to the mix of lot deliveries from communities and higher price-point markets. We expect continued quarterly fluctuations in our average sales price based on the geographic and lot size mix of our deliveries. Our pre-tax income increased 64% to $58.9 million compared to $35.9 million in the second quarter of last year.

Our pre-tax profit margin this quarter was 17.6% compared to 11.9% in the prior-year quarter. Pre-tax margin for the prior-year quarter includes $19.4 million of non-cash real estate impairment charges, partially offset by high margin track sales. Our gross profit margin for the quarter was 24.9% compared to 18.5% for the same quarter last year. Gross margin this quarter was positively impacted by non-recurring revenue items with unusually high margins, including selling excess sewer capacity and a land contract assignment fee. Excluding the effects of these items in the prior-year impairment charges and unusually high-margin track sales, our second quarter gross profit margin would have been approximately 22.5% compared to approximately 23% for the prior-year quarter.

In the second quarter, SG&A expense increased 33% to $29.2 million, primarily due to a 25% increase in the number of employees. SG&A expense as a percentage of revenues was 8.7% compared to 7.3% in the prior-year quarter. We're pleased with the progress we have made building our team and we continue to attract high-quality talent. We remain focused on efficiently managing our SG&A while investing in our teams to support our continued growth. Mark?

Mark Walker: As for current market conditions, the supply of new and existing homes at affordable price points remains limited, and demographics supporting housing demand are favorable, despite elevated mortgage interest rates and inflationary pressures. Builder incentives continue to bridge the affordability gap for many home buyers, and the low resale supply continues to be a driver of buyers choosing new construction. Availability of contractors and necessary materials has improved over the past several months, but we have not seen overall reductions in the cost of developing land. We utilize best management practices and work with our trade partners to develop lots in the most efficient way possible. Our development cycle times are still impacted by governmental delays.

The supply of vacant developed lots, especially at affordable price points, remains constrained across our footprint. And Forestar is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the shortage of finished lots. Our ongoing focus is to develop lots for homes at affordable price points. Homebuilders are competing to secure land and lot positions, and many are looking to replace current closed-out communities to position for future growth. As a result, we are not seeing any softening in land prices. However, our team remains disciplined, flexible, and opportunistic on pursuing new land acquisition opportunities. Jim?

An aerial view of a large, newly constructed residential community in Arlington, Texas.
An aerial view of a large, newly constructed residential community in Arlington, Texas.

Jim Allen: D.R. Horton is our largest and most important customer. 15% of the homes D.R. Horton started in the past 12 months were on a Forestar developed lot. With a mutually stated goal of one out of every three homes D.R. Horton sells to be on a lot developed by Forestar, we have significant opportunity to grow our market share within D.R. Horton. We also continue to work on expanding our relationships with other homebuilders. 6% of our second quarter deliveries, or 184 lots, were sold to other homebuilders. Katie?

Katie Smith: Forestar's underwriting criteria for new development projects remains unchanged at a minimum 15% pre-tax return on average inventory and a return of our initial cash investment within 36 months. We are positioning Forestar to return to strong growth by accelerating our investments in land acquisition and development. During the second quarter, we invested approximately $350 million in land and land development, almost double the investment from the prior-year quarter. Roughly two-thirds of our investment was for land development, and one-third was for land acquisition. We still expect our investments in land acquisition and development to total $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in fiscal 2024 subject to market conditions.

Our lot position at March 31st increased 26% to 96,100 lots from 76,400 lots a year ago. At quarter-end, our total lot position was comprised of 57,400 owned lots and 38,700 lots that are controlled through purchase contracts. Lots owned at March 31st include 6,300 finished lots. We continue to target owning a three- to four-year supply of land and lots and remain focused on managing our development in phases to deliver finished lots at a pace that matches market demand consistent with our emphasis on capital efficiency. 31% of our owned lots are under contract to sell, representing approximately $1.6 billion of future revenue. These contracts have $145 million of hard-earnest money deposits associated with them. Another 30% of our owned lots are subject to a right of first offer to D.R. Horton based on executed purchase and sale agreements.

Jim?

Jim Allen: We have significant liquidity and are using modest leverage to keep our balance sheet strong and support our growth objectives. We ended the quarter with approximately $800 million of liquidity, including an unrestricted cash balance of $420 million and $380 million of available capacity on our undrawn revolving credit facility. Total debt at March 31st was $706 million, with no senior note maturities until fiscal 2026, and our net debt-to-capital ratio was 16.4%. We ended the quarter with $1.5 billion of stockholders' equity, and our book value per share increased to $29.09, up 16% from a year ago. During the quarter, we issued approximately 546,000 shares of common stock under our at-the-market equity offering program, raising net proceeds of $19.7 million.

Forestar's capital structure is one of our biggest competitive advantages, and it sets us apart from other land developers. Project-level land acquisition and development loans are less available and have become more expensive in recent years, impacting most of our competitors. Other developers generally use project level development loans, which are typically more restrictive, have floating rates, and create administrative complexity, especially in a volatile rate environment. Our capital structure provides us with operational flexibility, while our strong liquidity positions us to take advantage of attractive opportunities when they arise. Andy, I'll hand it back to you for closing remarks.

Andy Oxley: Thanks, Jim. In closing, I'm incredibly excited to be leading Forestar, and I believe there's tremendous opportunity ahead of us. Forestar is uniquely positioned to gain market share in the highly-fragmented lot development industry. Continued execution of our strategic and operational plans, supported by favorable market tailwinds across our diverse national footprint, positions Forestar for further success. We are expanding our team and accelerating our investments in land and development to position the company for consistent, long-term growth. Elevated mortgage interest rates continue to impact affordability, but the underlying fundamentals of a housing shortage remain in place. We believe the low supply of existing homes will continue to drive buyers to new construction and our strong relationship with D.R. Horton provides a clear path for growth.

Our guidance for fiscal 2024 remains unchanged. Based on current market conditions, we still expect to deliver between 14,500 and 15,500 lots and generate between $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion worth of revenue. We are closely monitoring each of our markets as we strive to balance sales price and pace to maximize returns for each project. We are a market leader in a highly-fragmented and undercapitalized industry and are uniquely positioned to take advantage of builder demand for finished lots. There is a significant opportunity to expand our presence in the markets we operate in and our goal remains the same, to double our market share to 5% over the intermediate term. We expect to aggregate significant market share over the next few years while maintaining our disciplined approach when investing capital to enhance the long-term value of Forestar.

With a clear strategic direction, a dedicated team, and a strong operational and financial foundation, I'm excited about the future at Forestar.

Katie Smith: Okay, John, this time we'll open the line for questions.

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