updated 5/24/2007 9:00:11 AM ET 2007-05-24T13:00:11

Luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. said Thursday its fiscal second-quarter profit fell sharply, as the company took hefty charges to write down property values amid continued weakness in the housing market.

For the three months ended April 30, net income dropped to $36.7 million, or 22 cents per share, from $174.9 million, or $1.06 per share, a year ago. The latest quarter includes writedowns of $72.9 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with just $7.3 million, or 4 cents per share in the prior-year period.

Excluding items, the company would have earned 66 cents per share in the latest quarter, about half of the $1.10 per share posted in the 2006 period.

Revenue declined to $1.17 billion from $1.44 billion a year ago.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for profit of 25 cents per share on revenue of $1.12 billion.

“We continue to operate conservatively in the current difficult climate,” said Robert I. Toll, chairman and chief executive. “In the past year we have trimmed our lot position by 28 percent from our high of 91,200 lots to our current 65,800 lots.”

Second-quarter net signed contracts fell 25 percent to $1.17 billion from $1.56 billion a year earlier. The company signed 2,031 contracts — before cancellations — in the latest period, a 14 percent decline year-over-year. The period’s cancellation rate of 18.9 percent was lower than the first-quarter’s 29.8 percent rate, and 36.9 percent rate in the 2006 fourth quarter, but still was well above Toll’s historical average of about 7 percent.

Looking ahead, Toll said it expects to deliver between 6,100 and 6,900 homes in fiscal 2007 and produce total home building revenue of $4.26 billion to $4.88 billion for the full year. For the third quarter ending July 31, the company expects to deliver between 1,400 and 1,800 homes and produce home building revenue of between $990 million and $1.28 billion.

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