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Lennar shares rise despite loss

January 18, 2007|From the Associated Press

Lennar Corp., one of the nation's biggest home builders, reported a fourth-quarter loss Wednesday compared with a large profit a year ago, but the company's stock rose as it discussed 2007 earnings-per-share goals that, if reached, would surpass analysts' expectations.

Miami-based Lennar lost $195.6 million, or $1.24 a share, in the three months ended Nov. 30, after a profit of $581.2 million, or $3.54, a year earlier.

Revenue tumbled 15% to $4.27 billion as Lennar absorbed charges related to the housing market slowdown.

New-home orders fell 6% to 9,606 homes. The company also reduced housing starts by 29% and cut back on land purchases.

On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast a loss of $1.11 a share on revenue of $4.17 billion.

For the full fiscal year, net income slid to $593.9 million, or $3.69 a share, from $1.36 billion, or $8.23, a year ago.

For 2007, Lennar said uncertain market conditions made forecasts difficult. But if the job market stays strong, interest rates remain low, a healthy economy continues and the new-home market "demonstrates traditional, seasonal improvement," the company will meet or exceed its 2006 earnings, President and Chief Executive Stuart Miller said.

The earnings goal is above the $2.61 a share expected by analysts, said Todd Vencil of BB&T Capital Markets. Lennar shares rose $2.23, or 4.5%, to $51.95.

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