William Lyon Homes said Thursday that third-quarter profit more than tripled as the average price of its homes jumped 43%.
The Newport Beach company reported net income for the period ended Sept. 30 of $44.9 million, or $4.51 a share, compared with $14.9 million, or $1.49, a year earlier.
Operating revenue jumped to $474.9 million from $214 million a year earlier. Revenue included $153.2 million from consolidated joint ventures with no comparable amount last year.
Lyon builds homes in California, Nevada and Arizona -- three of the strongest housing markets in the U.S. During the period, the firm closed, or completed and sold, 864 homes -- a record for the third quarter and up 25% from the same period in 2003.
The average price of a Lyon home was $549,000, versus $383,000 a year earlier; in California, the average was $640,000, compared with $450,000. Gross margins rose to 26% from 17%.
Because of a cooling housing market in California and other markets, and because the company had booked a record amount of new homes during the first and second quarters, net new-home orders dropped 33% during the third quarter. In California, the company’s largest market, orders were down 52%.
Still, Lyon’s net new-home orders for the first nine months of the year totaled a record 2,878, up 7% from the same period a year ago.
“Our strategy of building in three of the top markets has been validated by our record results for the first nine months of 2004,” said William Lyon, the company’s founder, chairman and chief executive.
William Lyon Homes shares fell $2.12 to $67.58 on the New York Stock Exchange after industry leader Lennar Corp. warned of delayed closings in the fourth quarter. Lyon executives have scheduled a conference call with investors today.