SAO PAULO, May 14 (Reuters) - Cyrela Brazil Realty SA , Brazil's largest homebuilder, reported an 8.7 percent drop in first-quarter net profit, on weak sales early in the quarter and expenses at a low-cost housing unit.
Cyrela on Thursday posted net income of 163 million reais ($74.1 million), compared with 179 million reais a year earlier. The result was below an average forecast of 171 million reais in a Reuters poll of five analysts.
The company is widely viewed as ahead of its peers in terms of revamping its operations after aggressive expansion led to huge cost overruns and big losses across the industry.
With its turnaround mostly complete, Cyrela doubled new project launches in the first quarter from a year earlier while contracted sales rose 13.9 percent.
Cyrela posted a gross profit margin of 33.3 percent in the quarter, up from 32.9 percent in the fourth quarter. Last year the company estimated a gross margin of between 31 percent and 35 percent for full-year 2014.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDA - fell 5.7 percent from a year earlier to 244 million reais, missing the average estimate of 306 million reais in the Reuters survey.
$1 = 2.20 Brazilian reais Reporting by Asher Levine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky