Source AP ©

Mickey Mouse and friends help to sell new homes

KB Home goes on using Mickey Mouse and friends to boost sales of new homes.

The builder, one of several hurt by the ongoing housing slump, inked a licensing deal with The Walt Disney Co. to offer home design features based on many of the entertainment company's most popular characters.

Financial terms of the deal with the Disney Consumer Products unit were not disclosed.

KB Home will begin offering the Disney Home features early next year. Customers can choose from flooring, lighting, wall coverings and other products featuring Disney characters.

"It's a very unique proposition that will help us sell homes, will raise our brand and will generate revenue for both companies," said Jeffrey Mezger, KB Home's president and chief executive.

Homebuilders across the country have been grappling with declining sales by slashing prices to lure in buyers.

In June, KB Home reported a loss for the second quarter ending May 31 of $148.7 million (105.26 million EUR), or $1.93 per share. That compared with net income of $205.4 million (145.4 million EUR), or $2.45 per share, in the same quarter in 2006.

Mezger declined to discuss specifics of how the company has been faring more recently, noting it was scheduled to report financial results for the third-quarter on Thursday.

Wall Street analysts were expecting the company to report a loss of 67 cents per share on revenue of $1.52 billion (1.08 billion EUR), according to Thomson Financial.

"There's no question it's tough times for the housing industry," Mezger said, adding that KB Home has survived down cycles before in its 50-year history. "Branding initiatives like this, where you differentiate yourself, we feel are a very strong element to our success."

KB Home shares fell $1, or 4 percent, to $24.09 Wednesday. Shares of Disney rose 45 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $34.52.

Disney stands to benefit from the deal because anyone who would choose to festoon their new home with Disney elements could look to complete the decor with Disney furniture and other products.

Two years ago, KB Home decided to offer homes featuring design elements from Martha Stewart. The move generated "very high" traffic levels and sales, Mezger said.

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