Homebuilder Lennar on Track for New High After Earnings

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Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) reported fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results before markets opened this morning. The homebuilder reported quarterly diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.56 on revenues of $1.35 billion. In the same period a year ago, Lennar reported EPS of $0.16 on revenue of $952.7 million. This morning’s results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.44 and $1.31 billion in revenue.

For the full year, Lennar reported EPS of $3.11 on revenues of $4.1 billion. A year ago the company reported EPS of $0.48 on revenue of $3.1 billion. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $3.00 on revenue of $4.06 billion.

The company’s CEO said:

During our fourth quarter, the housing industry took further steps toward a sustained recovery. Low mortgage rates, affordable home prices, reduced foreclosures and an extremely favorable ‘rent vs. own’ comparison continue to drive the recovery.

On virtually every metric, Lennar performed better than it did a year ago. Homebuilding gross margins rose to from 19.4% a year ago to 23.5%, largely due to a drop in sales incentives to attract buyers. Operating margin from homebuilding rose even more, 6.6% to 12.2% in the fourth quarter. For the full year, homebuilding gross margin rose from 19.9% in 2011 to 22.7%.

The company offered no guidance, but reported that its backlog of new homes at the end of the fourth quarter totaled 4,053, nearly double the backlog at the same time in 2011. In a similar vein, the dollar value of the backlog rose from $560.7 million a year ago to $1.16 billion.

Shares rose 0.4% in after-hours trading last night, to $41.19 in a 52-week range of $21.33 to $42.00. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $37.40 before today’s results were announced.

UPDATE: Lennar is down nearly 2% in premarket trading to $40.23.

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