March 20 - Lennar's CEO says he's ''optimistic'' over the prospects of the housing market as the industry enters the historically strong spring selling season. Fred Katayama reports.
Signs of economic optimism on the first day of spring. The harsh winter weather impacted sales and construction in some of Lennar's markets, but the homebuilder managed to significantly boost quarterly profit. It handed over a lot more homes, new orders surged, and its backlog grew over the previous year. And with higher average selling prices and fewer incentives, Lennar made more money on the homes it built. ISI analyst Stephen East said: "Given that Lennar has more geographies exposed to weather issues than KB Home, the fact that they could still outgrow on orders and dollars is impressive." Lennar said it couldn't predict the strength of the spring selling season - historically the strongest season for builders. But its CEO said he was "optimistic that the housing market is continuing to recover." Lennar, whose results echoed that of KB Home, has seen its stock recover from its dull performance last year. Its shares rose at the market open, adding on to its roughly five percent gain this year, outperforming the broader market.