FORT WORTH — Fort Worth-based homebuilder D.R. Horton saw profits more than double in its fiscal first quarter as the nations housing market recovered.Horton reported Tuesday that income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $66.3 million, or 20 cents a diluted share, an increase of 139 percent from a year ago when it reported income of $27.7 million, or 9 cents a diluted share.Horton said it closed sales on 5,182 homes between October and December, a 26 percent increase from the year-ago quarter.The company's stock (ticker: DHI) surged nearly 10 percent in morning trading, jumping $1.97 a share to $23.28. "This quarter was our most profitable first quarter since 2007," Chairman Donald Horton said in a statement. "We experienced broad improvement in demand in most of our markets this quarter, and we significantly increased our investments in homes under construction, finished lots, land and land development to capture this increasing demand. D.R. Horton is the best positioned it has been in its 35 year history. We are looking forward to the spring selling season with optimism.Sales orders for the first quarter increased 39 percent to 5,259 homes from 3,794 homes in the year-ago quarter and the backlog of homes to be built increased 62 percent to 7,317 homes from 4,530 homes at Dec. 31, 2011, the company said.Horton said it ended the quarter with $643.1 million of unrestricted cash and securities on hand.
Sandra Baker, (817) 390-7727; Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST