StockBeat: Lennar Leaps on Earnings Beat

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© Reuters. © Reuters. – Lennar (NYSE:) climbed on Wednesday, sidestepping the plunge in markets after the homebuilder delivered better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter earnings as home sales surged.

The company earnings of $1.59 a share on revenue of $5.86 billion, ahead of the consensus estimates from for earnings of $1.32 per share on revenue of $5.48 billion.

Lennar rose 2.48%, shrugging off a 2% decline in the .

The earnings beat was driven by a surge in homesales as lower mortgage rates boosted demand. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped below 4% in the past week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Weekly Mortgage Application Survey.

In its homebuilding segment, sales rose to $5.44 billion from $5.29 billion a year earlier, as the company sold 13,522 homes, an increase of 7%, while orders for new homes gained 7% to 14,469 in the quarter from a year earlier.

The company also said it was making progress in becoming a land-lighter company – decreasing captial tied up in land to boost cash flow — with its controlled homesite percentage rising to 30%.

“We’ve clearly focused our attention on becoming a land lighter company. Regarding our forward-looking 40% goal of controlled homesites versus owned, during the quarter, we made great progress by increasing our controlled homesites from 25% to 30%,” CEO Rick Beckwitt said. “We expect to continue making significant progress on this goal by entering into deals with regional and national land platforms.”

Lennar is up about 46% for the year so far and has an average price target of $60, according to consensus estimates from

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