Countrywide Financial Corp. Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo said the U.S. housing market is unlikely to recover before 2009, as lenders and homeowners work through oversupply, stagnating home prices, and the excesses of recent lax lending standards in much of the mortgage industry.

It just takes a long time to turn a battleship around, Mozilo said on a conference call discussing quarterly results for Countrywide, the largest U.S. mortgage lender. This is a huge battleship, and we're headed in the wrong direction.

Calling it a gut feeling, Mozilo said, It's going to take the balance of this year to get this thing to look like it's slowing down (and) 2009 to head into the other direction.

Earlier, Countrywide said second-quarter profit fell 33 percent to $485.1 million, or 81 cents per share, from $722.2 million, or $1.15, a year earlier. It also cut its 2007 earnings forecast to $2.70 to $3.30 per share. It had forecast $3.50 to $4.30 in April, and $3.80 to $4.80 in January.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)