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swung to a profit in the first quarter driven by higher operating profits at its homebuilding operations.

Lennar said earnings were $27.4 million, or 14 cents a share, versus a year-earlier loss of $6.5 million, or 4 cents a share.

Revenue in the quarter fell 3% to $558 million.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected the homebuilder to post a loss of 5 cents a share on revenue of $508 million.

Lennar said operating earnings at its homebuilding operation were $35.5 million, up from $5.5 million in the same period last year.

Lennar said deliveries of 1,923 homes in the quarter fell 4%, while new orders decreased 12% to 2,267 homes.

"During the quarter, we remained focused on the core fundamentals of our business, generating profitable results in each of our business segments," said Stuart Miller, president and CEO, in a statement Tuesday. "Our homebuilding segment continued to produce strong gross margins, benefiting from our intense focus on controlling construction costs and opening new high margin communities."

Lennar said gross margin on home sales was 20%, an improvement of 80 basis points.

-- Written by Joseph Woelfel

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