Lennar Corp., one of the nation’s largest home builders, today reported record fourth-quarter net earnings of $379.7 million, or $2.29 per share. Quarterly profit was up from $283.2 million, or $1.69 per share, during the same period last year.

Net earnings for the year ended Nov. 30, 2004, were $945.6 million, or $5.70 per share diluted, compared to net earnings of $751.4 million, or $4.65 per share diluted, in 2003.

“Demand for new homes has remained strong, driving company-wide orders up 5 percent in the fourth quarter even while Florida new orders and community openings lagged demand in the wake of a hyperactive hurricane season,” Lennar President and CEO Stuart Miller said.

Fourth-quarter revenues from home sales increased 26 percent to $3.4 billion from $2.7 billion in 2003. The increase primarily was due to a 12 percent increase in the number of home deliveries and a 12 percent increase in the average sales price of homes delivered. New home deliveries increased to 11,716 homes in the fourth quarter from 10,456 homes last year.

Revenues from home sales increased 19 percent in the year ended Nov. 30, 2004 to $9.6 billion from $8 billion in 2003. Revenues were higher primarily due to a 12 percent increase in the number of home deliveries and a 6 percent increase in the average sales price of homes delivered.

New home deliveries were higher in each of the company’s regions in the fourth quarter, compared to 2003. The average sales price of homes delivered increased to $287,000 in the fourth quarter from $255,000 in 2003.

New home deliveries increased to 35,189 homes in the year ended Nov. 30, 2004 from 31,412 homes last year. New home deliveries were higher in each of the company’s regions for the year. The average sales price of homes delivered increased to $272,000 in 2004, from $256,000 in 2003.

Revenues and gross margins on land sales totaled $53.4 million and $13.3 million, or 24.9 percent, respectively, in the fourth quarter, compared to $136.9 million and $48.2 million, or 35.2 percent, respectively, in 2003.

Operating earnings for Lennar’s Financial Services Division were $33.7 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $33.6 million last year, primarily due to an increase in loan originations offset by a more competitive mortgage environment.

Operating earnings for the Financial Services Division were $112.3 million in the year ended Nov. 30, 2004, compared to $154.5 million last year. The decline in operating earnings was primarily due to a more competitive mortgage environment and a slowdown in refinance activity, which resulted in reduced profitability from the division’s mortgage and title operations. The decline in operating earnings was partially offset by a $6.5 million gain generated from monetizing the majority of the division’s alarm monitoring contracts.

Miami-based Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) shares traded at $55.79 a share this morning, up 9.8 percent from Tuesday’s closing price of $50.83.

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