Homebuilder KB Home ( KBH) reported a 27% rise in second-quarter earnings Thursday, helped by higher unit delivery volumes.

In the quarter ended May 31, the company earned $81.4 million, or $1.94 a share, compared with $64.1 million, or $1.42 a share, in last year's comparable quarter. Analysts were expecting $1.64 a share.

Total sales were $1.44 billion, up 26%. The company cited higher housing and commercial revenue. Housing revenue rose 22% to $1.35 billion from $1.11 billion in the year-earlier quarter, reflecting higher unit delivery volumes and higher average selling prices. Total orders were 8,397, up 17%.

The company said it has a backlog of 16,103 units, up 17% from 13,741 on May 31, 2002, which supports its projections for the rest of the year. KB Home said it is "cautiously optimistic," and raised its earnings per share estimate for full-year 2003 to $8.20. Analysts expect $8.04 a share, on average. The company earned $7.15 a share in 2002.

"For the remainder of 2003, we expect to continue to benefit from favorable housing market conditions, including the combination of healthy demand and constrained land supply, and will continue to leverage our size to generate further operating efficiencies in the future," said Bruce Karatz, chief executive, in a statement.

Nevertheless, shares of the company were down about 4.2% in afternoon trading at $67 on Friday.

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