Lennar shares rise after earnings beat amid housing market uncertainty

        Lennar reported first-quarter earnings that beat expectations Tuesday after hours.  The stock was rising in after-hours trading.

The homebuilder (ticker: LEN ) said it had earned $2.06 per diluted share on total revenue of about $6.5 billion in the quarter ended Feb. 28. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.55 per share on revenue of about $5.9 billion. That compares to earnings of $1.69 per share. share of revenue of $6.2 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The earnings document a time of change in the housing market, as mortgage rates as measured by Freddie Mac fluctuated between about 6.1% and 6.5%. “During the quarter, we saw a generally strong economy at the intersection of high inflation and strong employment numbers, while the housing market continued down a tortuous path trying to find its footing,” said Lennar Executive Chairman Stuart Miller.

The company’s shares rose 3.2% after the market closed.

The company reported new orders for 14,194 homes — down 10% from the same quarter a year earlier, but significantly higher than the 12,634 consensus expected. The decline “compares favorably to reported market conditions,” Miller said. “Our sales volume and prices have clearly been impacted by rising interest rates, but there remains a significant national shortage of housing, particularly workforce housing, and there is still demand as we navigate the rebalancing of price and interest rates.”

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The homebuilder said the average sales price of its new orders was $452,000 in the quarter, compared with $495,000 in the same quarter last year.

Housing activity was not uniform throughout the quarter, Miller said. “In December, interest rates and sticker shock continued to limit sales activity, while lower interest rates in January and early February fueled sales,” the CEO said. “At the end of February, an increase in interest rates affected website and community traffic and had a small impact on sales.”

Lennar will discuss its earnings during a conference call at 11 ET Wednesday.

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Write to Shaina Mishkin at shaina.mishkin@dowjones.com

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