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SAO PAULO, March 19 (Reuters) - Cyrela Brazil Realty SA , Brazil's largest homebuilder by market value, reported a 17.8 percent fall in fourth-quarter net profit, mostly due to legal indemnifications for delayed units.
Cyrela posted quarterly net income of 150 million reais ($45.6 million), down from 183 million reais a year earlier, according to a securities filing on Thursday. The result missed an average forecast of 176.1 million reais in a Reuters poll of seven analysts.
"Our financial results were impacted by deliveries of projects from poor-performing vintages, which required lawsuit provisions and higher selling expenses to boost the sale of the large number of finished units," the company said in its earnings release.
Cyrela is the best-performing major homebuilder on Brazil's stock market this year, with shares up about 13 percent. Most analysts see the company as one of the best-managed firms in an industry that has been hit by cost overruns, sales cancellations and dwindling home-buyer confidence.
Cyrela started 2.26 billion reais worth of housing projects in the fourth quarter, down 16.1 percent from the same quarter a year earlier, the company said in a January filing. It sold 1.89 billion reais of houses and apartments in the quarter, 17.1 percent less than the 2.28 billion reais reported a year earlier, the filing added.
Cyrela posted a gross profit margin of 32.3 percent in the quarter, down from 32.9 percent a year earlier but up from 29.9 percent in the third quarter.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization - a gauge of operating profit known as EBITDA - fell 9.9 percent from a year earlier to 256 million reais, missing the average estimate of 317.1 million reais in the Reuters survey.
$1 = 3.29 Brazilian reais Reporting by Asher Levine; Editing by Ken Wills