Toll Brothers' ( TOL) first-quarter earnings wiped out analysts' expectations as the homebuilder capitalized on continuing strong demand.

"The luxury market continues to flourish, as it has for the past 11 years, driven by strong demographics and increasing affluence," the company said in a statement. "Other than the brief weakness of late last summer and early autumn, buyer demand has been strong since 1991.

"Toll Brothers, and the home building industry in general, may have skipped the recession of 2001-2002," the company said.

The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., company earned $44.5 million, or $1.20 a share, compared with $39.9 million, or $1.01 per share, a year ago. Analysts were expecting $1.05 a share, on average, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. Revenue rose 5% to $482.7 million from $458.4 million.

Toll Brothers expects to exceed analysts' earnings estimates of $5.08 for the fiscal year. The average estimate from analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call was $5.08 per share for the year, ending in October, and said for fiscal 2003 it expects to earn $6 a share or more.

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