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Lennar

(LEN) - Get Free Report

reported the latest in a string of stellar quarters and provided a positive outlook for 2003.

The Miami-based homebuilder posted earnings for the fourth quarter ended Nov. 30 of $225 million, or $3.16 a share, a 35% increase over the year-ago period. Sales were $2.6 billion. The numbers surpassed the company's own Dec. 18 guidance, when it said it expected to earn about $3.10 a share.

For fiscal 2002 the company earned $7.72 a share on $7.72 billion in revenue, increases of 30% and 21%, respectively.

Increased demand, higher market share and strong margins were cited as the main earnings drivers by Stuart Miller, the company's CEO. Low interest rates have created a tight supply-and-demand environment that sent home prices up an average of 11% in 2002.

Lennar's increased market share was mainly the result of the nine acquisitions it made during the year.

The company also reported a fourth-quarter backlog of $3.2 billon, a 61% increase from a year ago. Lennar reaffirmed its growth targets for next year, saying it expects to earn $8.50 for fiscal 2003.

Shares of Lennar closed at $55 on Tuesday.