Quarterly profits surge at D.R. Horton as home sales rise

Fort Worth-based home builder D.R. Horton saw its fiscal first quarter income soar as housing markets improved nationwide and home prices began to rise, the company said today.

Income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 was $123.2 million, or 36 cents a share, up 86 percent from the year-ago quarter when income was $66.3 million, or 20 cents a share. Revenue from home building was $1.6 billion in the fiscal first quarter, up 33 percent from $1.2 billion in same quarter of 2013.

Donald Tomnitz, Horton’s president and chief executive, said during a conference call with Wall Street analysts that it was the best first quarter at the company since 2006, and sets a “firm foundation” for the year.

The company, Tomnitz said, “is off to a strong start. We are better prepared for this spring than any other spring season. We continue to feel like there’s momentum building.”

Shares of Horton (ticker: DHI) rose $1.72 a share to $22.65 a share in morning trading, up 8.2 percent.

In the quarter, Horton said its sales orders rose 4 percent to 5,454 homes, closings rose 19 percent to 6,188 homes and its sales order backlog rose 5 percent to 7,684 homes. The average sales price increased 10 percent to $275,600.

The company will pay shareholders a 37.5 cents a share dividend on Feb. 18.

“Housing market conditions continue to improve across most of our operating markets, and our weekly sales pace has accelerated in January,” said Chairman Donald R. Horton in a statement. “We are well-positioned to capture demand in the spring selling season with a solid balance sheet, an increased community count, a robust finished lot supply and a strong inventory of homes available for sale.”