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D.R. Horton New Orders Rise

The country's largest builder posts a 16% jump in orders, while M/I Homes reports a decline.

After a string of

lackluster order reports from smaller homebuilders last week,

D.R. Horton

(DHI) - Get D.R. Horton, Inc. Report

, the country's largest builder, said new-home orders increased 16% in its latest quarter.

Orders rose in every geographic market for the period ending Dec. 31, and the dollar value of the orders were up 19% from a year earlier to $3.2 billion.

D.R. Horton's business in the Southwest was particularly solid, with orders rising 21% to 4,783 units, and the dollar values of those contracts jumping 37% to $1 billion.

In the West, D.R. Horton's orders rose 17% to 3,191 units, and the dollar value of those sales rose 11% to $1.2 billion. Unit orders rose 3% in the Southeast, 30% in the Midwest and 7% in the mid-Atlantic.

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"This company looks to be on track to grow both sales and earnings by 20% this year and we believe investors will be well rewarded appropriately as we move through the year," wrote Susquehanna Financial analyst Stephen East in a research report.

Also on Tuesday,

M/I Homes

(MHO) - Get M/I Homes, Inc. Report

-- which builds in the Midwest and East Coast -- said orders fell 2% in its latest quarter from a year earlier. Ohio and Indiana dragged down results, with unit orders falling 33%. Florida saw 41% order growth, and the combined region of North Carolina, Delaware, Virginia and Maryland saw orders rise 31%.

There wasn't much room for the builders to move Tuesday, after the sector rallied Monday on positive analyst reports.

Deutsche Bank analyst Gregg Schoenleber said the group should post 16% earnings growth in 2006 as the large public builders continue to increase their market share.

In midday trading Tuesday, D.R. Horton rose 10 cents, or 0.4%, to $39.99 and M/I Homes rose 46 cents, or 1 %, to $43.50.