UPDATE 2-Large land assets help Lennar ride housing recovery wave
* Second-quarter revenue $1.43 bln vs est $1.33 bln
* Earnings $0.61 per share vs est $0.33
* Orders rise 27 pct, backlog rises 55 pct
* Shares rise 4 pct
June 25 (Reuters) - Lennar Corp reported a 27 percent rise in orders in the critical spring selling season as its large land bank helped it take advantage of a recovering U.S. housing market.
Shares of the No. 3 U.S. homebuilder rose 4 percent in early trade, after the company reported better-than-expected second-quarter results.
Orders jumped to 5,705 homes in the spring selling season, which is to homebuilders what the Christmas shopping season is to retailers. Lennar booked orders for 4,481 homes in the year-ago spring quarter.
Supply of new single-family homes has been constrained as many builders cut back on buying land through the economic downturn.
Lennar is better positioned than many of its peers to continue building houses as it got back into the game early and actively bought land over the past several years.
"... Our second-quarter results together with real-time feedback from our field associates continue to point towards a solid housing recovery," Chief Executive Stuart Miller said in a statement on Tuesday.
Goldman Sachs wrote in an industry note on Monday that it expects Lennar to grow faster than the national average given the company's solid land investments.
The builder, which sells homes ranging from urban infill communities to golf course communities, said in March that it had enough land to meet orders until 2014. It expects to spend about $2 billion per year on new land acquisitions from 2015.
"(Lennar's) land bank is quality land, it is adequate to meet the demand that's out there and they're going to continue to buy land," Williams Financial Group analyst David Williams said.
Lennar is the first of the top 5 U.S. homebuilders to report quarterly results. No.5 builder KB Home is scheduled to report second-quarter results on Thursday.
U.S. homebuilder sentiment turned positive in June for the first time since the start of the housing crisis, data from the National Association of Home Builders showed earlier this month.
Lennar said its average selling price rose 13 percent to $283,000 for the three months ended May.
"Affordability remains high and despite recent interest rate increases, we have seen very little impact on sales or pricing," Miller said.
The company's backlog - houses ordered but not yet finished - rose 55 percent to 6,163 in units and 76 percent to $1.9 billion in value.
Revenue jumped 53 percent to $1.43 billion in the quarter. Analysts on average had expected $1.33 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
However, net income fell to $137.4 million, or 61 cents per share, from $452.7 million, or $2.06 per share, a year earlier when Lennar recorded a tax benefit of $403 million.
Analysts had expected earnings of 33 cents per share.
Lennar's shares have gained almost 170 percent since the housing market started recovering in October 2011 and have outperformed the Dow Jones Home Construction Index. The stock was trading up 4 percent at $36.37 on the New York Stock Exchange.