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D.R. Horton Net Surges

But its first-quarter guidance trails analysts' estimate.
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D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get Free Report

reported solidly higher earnings and revenue Wednesday but issued guidance that won't completely resolve the anxiety being felt by homebuilder bulls.

The Texas-based builder earned $563.8 million, or $1.77 a share, on revenue of $5.02 billion in its fourth quarter. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of $1.63 a share on revenue of $4.7 billion, according to Thomson First Call. A year ago, D.R. Horton earned $349.6 million, or $1.11 a share.

"We ended the year on an extremely positive note with a 33% organic increase in our fourth-quarter sales and strong sales performances in all of our regions," the company said. "Our double-digit sales increase and our record $5.8 billion backlog position us for a strong start to fiscal year 2006."

By most measures, the company's guidance was solid. D.R. Horton expects to earn $5.22 to $5.32 a share in 2006 on revenue of $15.5 billion, up from its previous estimate of $5 to $5.05 a share on revenue of $15 billion. Analysts were forecasting $5.24 a share on sales of $16.06 billion.

It reiterated first-quarter earnings guidance of 90 cents to 95 cents a share. Analysts expected more: 99 cents a share. The guidance reflects a backlog totaling $5.8 billion at Sept. 30, up 28% from a year ago.

While no disaster, Horton's guidance comes about a week after rival

Toll Brothers

(TOL) - Get Free Report

spooked the market by cutting its own 2006 earnings estimate due to delays in home deliveries.