Lennar Profit Beats Estimates as Wage Growth Boosts Home Values

Lennar Corp., the second-largest U.S. homebuilder, reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates as new-home production rebounds.

Net income for the three months through November was $281.6 million, or $1.21 a share, compared with $245.3 million, or $1.07, a year earlier, the Miami-based company said in a statement Friday. The average estimate of 12 analysts was for earnings of $1.12 a share, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Lennar was aggressive in buying land during the downturn and now is benefiting from selling its homes into a rising market. It’s also more diversified than most builders, offering houses in 19 states and investing in rental projects, mortgage financing and commercial real estate.

“Improving employment levels, wage growth and consumer confidence will continue to keep the housing market on its slow and steady recovery,” Chief Executive Officer Stuart Miller said in the statement. “We continued to identify unique and enticing land opportunities.”

The improving job market is giving a boost to housing demand. Work began in November on the most single-family homes since January 2008, and permits for similar projects reached an eight-year high, the Commerce Department reported this week.

Lennar delivered 7,657 homes in the quarter, 10 percent more than a year earlier. The average selling price climbed 6 percent to $347,000. New orders rose 10 percent to 6,053.

Earnings were announced before the start of regular U.S. trading. Lennar shares fell 3.6 percent to $48.68 on Thursday. They’re up 8.6 percent this year, compared with an 11 percent drop for the Bloomberg index of North American homebuilders.

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