June 27, 2012 / 10:34 AM / 6 years ago

Lennar orders up 40 percent, sees steady housing recovery

(Reuters) - Lennar Corp (LEN.N) reported a rise in new orders for the fifth straight quarter and said a slow and steady recovery was underway in the housing market.

A Lennar model home is open for customers in a new neighborhood in the Denver suburb of Thornton, Colorado March 29, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Lennar, the largest U.S. homebuilder behind D.R. Horton (DHI.N) and PulteGroup Inc (PHM.N), also reported second-quarter earnings and revenue ahead of market estimates.

Miami-based Lennar said new orders jumped 40 percent to 4,481 homes. Orders are a key indicator for builders, which do not book revenue until they close on a house.

“We are experiencing net positive price and volume trends in most of our markets,” Chief Executive Stuart Miller said.

Margins for the quarter rose to 22.5 percent, up 310 basis points from a year earlier, on a stronger pricing environment. The average sale price of a Lennar home rose to $$250,000 from $245,000 in the same quarter last year.

Even though the recovery in the housing market has been erratic, there is mounting evidence of a turnaround.

New U.S. single-family home sales surged in May to a two-year high and prices rose from a year earlier, further signs the housing market recovery was gaining momentum.

Net income for Lennar, which was founded in 1954, rose to $452.7 million, or $2.06 per share, for the quarter ended May 31 from $13.8 million, or 7 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company, which focuses on construction of single-family attached and detached homes, earned 21 cents per share excluding valuation allowance of $403 million.

Revenue rose 22 percent to $930.2 million.

Analysts on average expected Lennar to earn 17 cents per share on revenue of $885.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Lennar shares closed at $27.39 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The stock has gained almost 40 percent this year.

Reporting by Megha Mandavia in Bangalore; Editing by Joyjeet Das

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