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UPDATE 1-Lennar profit jumps 32 pct in slowing US housing market

Wednesday, 18 Dec 2013 | 7:09 AM ET

* Fourth-quarter revenue rises 42 pct to $1.92 bln

* Earnings $0.73/share vs $0.56 a year earlier

* Average selling price jumps 18 pct to $307,000

* Shares rise 3 pct before the bell

(Adds details, background, share movement)

Dec 18 (Reuters) - Lennar Corp, the No.3 U.S. homebuilder, reported a 32 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit in a slowing housing market that tempered order growth.

Lennar's orders rose 13 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 14 percent in the third and 32 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

D.R. Horton Inc and PulteGroup Inc, the two biggest U.S. homebuilders, reported a drop in orders in their most recent quarters as mortgage rates increased and Washington was locked in a budget standoff.

Lennar shares rose 3 percent before the bell.

Chief Executive Stuart Miller said an 18 percent increase in Lennar's average sales price also constrained demand.

The company is in a better position than most U.S. homebuilders to maintain its pace of building houses because it bought land through the downturn, allowing it to raise prices now that there is a shortage of developed lots.

Lennar said on Wednesday that its average selling price rose to $307,000 in the fourth quarter ended Nov. 30, from $261,000 a year earlier and $291,000 in the third quarter.

Orders increased to 4,498 homes from 3,983 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Orders are a key indicator for builders, who do not book revenue until they close on a house.

Net income attributable to Lennar rose to $164.1 million, or 73 cents per share, from $124.3 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue jumped 42 percent to $1.92 billion.

Lennar shares were trading at $36.39 before the bell. They have dropped 9 percent in the past 12 months, compared with a 2 percent drop in the Dow Jones Home Construction index.

(Reporting by Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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