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Lennar says results point to solid U.S. housing recovery

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

(Reuters) - Lennar Corp , the No. 3 U.S. homebuilder, reported a stronger-than-expected 53 percent rise in second-quarter revenue as it sold more homes at higher prices, suggesting the U.S. housing market recovery remains on track.

The company also said orders jumped 27 percent to 5,705 homes in the spring selling season, which is to homebuilders what the Christmas shopping season is to retailers.

"...Our second-quarter results together with real-time feedback from our field associates continue to point towards a solid housing recovery," Chief Executive Stuart Miller said in a statement on Tuesday.

Lennar, whose shares were up 1.4 percent in light trading before the bell, said its average selling price rose 13 percent to $283,000 for the three months ended May.

The company has been able to consistently charge more for its houses due to a shortage of single-family homes. The company said in January it would also enter the apartment rental business to take advantage of rising rents.

"Affordability remains high and despite recent interest rate increases, we have seen very little impact on sales or pricing," Miller said.

The company's backlog -- houses ordered but not yet finished -- rose 55 percent to 6,163.

Revenue jumped 53 percent to $1.43 billion in the quarter. Analysts on average had expected $1.33 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

However, net income fell to $137.4 million, or 61 cents per share, from $452.7 million, or $2.06 per share, a year earlier when Lennar recorded a tax benefit of $403 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of 33 cents per share.

Lennar's shares have gained almost 170 percent since the housing market started recovering in October 2011. They were trading at $35.50 before the bell.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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