Homebuilder

Hovnanian Enterprises'

(HOV) - Get Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. Class A Report

third-quarter earnings rose sharply because of a 31% increase in home delivery sales over last year, topping analyst estimates. The company also upped its earnings guidance for 2002 and 2003 because it expects continued strong sales.

The shares rose almost 6% to $31.67 on the news.

Including a one-time $7.6 million charge, or 23 cents a share, from the decision not to complete a

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software implementation, the company earned $46.8 million, or $1.43 a share. In last year's comparable quarter, the company earned $21.0 million, or 71 cents a share.

Excluding the charge, the company earned $39.2 million, or $1.20 a share, compared with $30.9 million, or 97 cents a share, a year ago. The analyst consensus was 85 cents a share.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the third quarter rose 78% to $93.4 million from $52.4 million in last year's third quarter.

Revenue increased 38% to $704.6 million, up from $636.9 million.

Third-quarter home delivery sales set a company record. The company delivered 2,647 homes, worth $681.3 million, in the third quarter compared with 2,021 homes, worth $497.3 million, last year.

Hovnanian now expects to earn $131 million, or $4.00 a share to $4.10 a share, up 30% from an initial prediction. The company expects a 2003 EPS of $4.50 to $4.75, higher than the prior range of $3.75 to $3.90 a share. Analysts have predicted EPS of $3.32 for 2002 and $3.78 for 2003.