Luxury home builder Toll Brothers today reported that its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings climbed 72 percent and that it looks to next year’s housing climate with “cautious optimism” as markets appear to be slowing down.

Net income for the three months ended Oct. 31 was $310 million, or $1.84 per share, up from $180.6 million, or $1.11 per share, a year ago.

Fourth-quarter revenues were $2 billion, up 40 percent from $1.45 billion in 2004.

“Our sales results indicate that housing demand is returning to the more normalized levels of the decade from 1994 to mid-2003, before home prices really took off in quite a few markets,” Robert Toll, chairman and CEO of Toll Brothers, said in a statement today.

The company in November cut its national sales forecast for 2006, citing moderating home prices, softening demand and a tougher regulatory environment. The company estimates delivering between 9,500 and 10,200 homes in fiscal 2006, down from its previous guidance of 10,200 to 10,600 homes.

Toll Brothers now expects that earnings for fiscal 2006 will be between $$810 million and $890 million, or between $4.79 and $5.27 per share. Projected revenues for 2006 are between $6.65 billion and $7.25 billion.

“We look to the future with cautious optimism,” Toll said. “We believe demand for our luxury homes relies, in large measure, on consumer confidence, which has suffered recently among our clientele.”

The rapid increase in home prices, along with the surge in gas prices this fall have caused consumer confidence indexes to decline sharply in recent months.

Toll Brothers serves move-up, empty-nester, active-adult and second-home buyers and operates in 20 states.

Toll Brothers stock (NYSE:TOL) traded at $35.04 per share this morning, up 2 percent from Wednesday’s closing price.


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