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Lennar 4Q Profit Down 10% Absent 2009 Benefit, Beats Views

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Lennar Corp.'s (LEN) fiscal fourth-quarter profit dropped 10% following prior-year results that were buoyed by a hefty tax gain, but results beat expectations as margins soared on a reduction in incentives. Builders have seen improved results in recent quarters but have seen orders slump since the government's first-time homebuyer tax credit expired last spring. Lennar's Rialto unit, focused on distressed loans and real estate, has been a bright spot of late and swung to the black in the latest period. For the quarter ended Nov. 30, Lennar posted a profit of $32 million, or 17 cents a share, down from a year-earlier profit of $35.6 million, or 19 cents a share. The prior-year period included a $320.5 million tax benefit. Revenue slid 5.9% to $860.1 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast a profit of 3 cents on $760 million in revenue. Gross margin on home sales widened to 17.7% from 11.1%, including valuation adjustments. New orders declined 5% to 2,520, while deliveries dropped 12% to 3,089. The average sale price of a home was flat at $238,000 as incentives as a percentage of home-sales revenue dropped to 12.4% from 13.2%. The builder's backlog dipped 1.7% to 1,604 homes. Class A shares closed Monday at $18.90 and were inactive premarket. The stock has gained 16% over the past year. -By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240;

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