SAO PAULO, May 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian homebuilder Gafisa SA posted a bigger-than-expected loss for the first quarter, weighed down by cancellations in its low-income Tenda division.
The company said its net loss had narrowed to 39.8 million reais ($18 million) from 55.47 million reais a year earlier, according to a securities filing late Friday. Three analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a 33 million reais loss, on average, while two forecast a 12.5 million reais profit.
Gafisa has been working to rein in expenses, cut debt and refocus on key markets since 2012 after a rapid expansion into untried regions led to cost overruns and big quarterly losses.
Last month the company said it had launched 535.4 million reais worth of new projects in the first quarter, up from 196.7 million reais a year earlier. Total contracted sales reached 239.3 million reais, up from 107.9 million reais.
Gafisa announced plans late last year to spin off Tenda, which should be concluded in 2015. The group acquired Tenda in 2008, but a series of costly budget overruns and canceled contracts in the unit have weighed on Gafisa's bottom line. That trend continued in the first quarter, as Tenda cancellations more than doubled from the previous quarter.
Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell to 26.5 million reais, missing analysts' estimates of 49 million reais and falling from 57.8 million reais a year earlier.
$1 = 2.21 Brazilian reais Reporting by Asher Levine; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn