US homebuilder Lennar beats Q1 profit estimates amid sustained demand for new homes

(Reuters) -Lennar Corp reported first-quarter profits above Wall Street estimates on Wednesday, as historically low existing home supply led to sustained demand for new unit construction.

The company delivered 16,798 homes in the quarter ended Feb. 29, a 23% jump from a year earlier.

“Macroeconomic environment remained relatively consistent throughout the quarter,” said Stuart Miller, Lennar’s co-CEO, and added that housing supply remained chronically short due to production deficits over a decade.

The 7% interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgages, combined with low availability of existing homes, created a tight supply and drove housing prices but pushed many potential buyers out of the market.

To counter this, Lennar cut average base home prices to $413,000 in the quarter, compared with a selling price of $448,000 per home a year earlier.

Home sales gross margins were slightly up from a year ago at 21.8% in a sign that sustained demand and construction cycle times were returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Lennar also expects second-quarter home deliveries to be between 19,000 and 19,500, above analysts’ estimates of 18,889, as per LSEG data.

The company also expects 20,900 to 21,300 new orders for the current quarter, a forecast that Barclays analysts believe may likely be perceived as in-line or slightly lower than more bullish investor expectations.

The second-largest U.S. homebuilder reported earnings of $2.57 per share for the quarter, surpassing analysts’ average estimate of $2.20 per share and above $2.06 per share a year earlier.

However, its revenue of $7.33 billion fell short of analyst estimates of $7.38 billion.

“We expect a muted to modestly negative stock reaction tomorrow following a largely in-line print”, Barclays analyst Matthew Bouley wrote in a note.

The Miami, Florida-based Lennar’s shares were down 1% in aftermarket trading.

(Reporting by Ananta Agarwal, Pratyush Thakur in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)