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Strong Profits at Kaufman and Countrywide

<i> From Times Wire Services</i>

The booming housing market fueled strong profit growth at home builder Kaufman & Broad Home Corp. and mortgage lender Countrywide Credit Industries Inc. in the latest quarter.

Los Angeles-based Kaufman said its net income doubled to $16.2 million, or 35 cents a share, in its fiscal first quarter, and it forecast another strong earnings performance for the year based on continued sales growth and a hefty backlog of orders. The results beat analyst forecasts of 33 cents a share and compare with $8.1 million, or 20 cents, a year ago. Revenue climbed 63% to $694.1 million.

Calabasas-based Countrywide said its earnings rose 19% in its fiscal fourth quarter to $101.6 million, or 86 cents a share, a penny higher than analysts forecast, as it lent a record amount even as interest rates rose.

Countrywide said it lent $25.1 billion in the quarter, up 55% from a year ago. The number of new loans increased 50% to 213,693.

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Refinances accounted for 62% of loans funded in the quarter, up from 55% a year ago.

The company said its pipeline of loans applied for but not yet closed was $14.6 billion at the end of the quarter, up 16% from a year earlier. Countrywide’s portfolio of loans for which it collects and processes payments rose 18% to $215.5 billion.

Kaufman’s latest earnings include the purchase of Lewis Homes, the biggest privately held U.S. home builder, which was completed in January, and four other smaller builders acquired during the last year. The purchase of Lewis made Kaufman the largest U.S. home builder, based on the number of homes delivered.

Home deliveries jumped 63% to 4,279 units, and Kaufman’s housing gross profit margin gained 0.6 percentage point to 18%.

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New orders rose 51% to 5,621 homes. Excluding acquisitions, orders rose 7.6%. The company’s backlog of homes ordered but not yet completed soared 74% to 9,216 units, or $1.4 billion.


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