Shares of Beazer Homes ( BZH) rose Thursday after the company posted a nearly 50% rise in third-quarter earnings that easily beat analysts' estimates.

The Atlanta-based homebuilder posted earnings of $59.7 million, or $4.31 a share, up from $40.7 million, or $3.01 a share, in the same period last year.

Revenue increased by 31% to $1 billion from $771.8 million in the same period a year ago.

Beazer's quarterly results were well ahead of analyst estimates that had forecast earnings per share of $4.06 on revenue of $988.7 million.

The company attributed results to strong growth in home closings, which rose 12%. The company continues to see favorable conditions in the housing industry, and its backlog now stands at a sales value of $2.3 billion.

As a result, the company boosted fiscal 2004 guidance to $16.50 to $16.75 a share.

Analysts were expecting the company to earn $15.93 a share for the full year.

Beazer's shares were recently up $1.95, or 2.2%, to $91.17.

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