IRVINE, Calif. (AP) -- Standard Pacific Corp.'s net income surged nearly threefold in the first three months of the year, as the company sold more homes and benefited from rising home prices.
Completed sales in the quarter grew 48 percent from a year ago, while orders for new homes increased 49 percent. On average the builder's homes sold for $375,000, an increase of 9 percent from a year earlier.
The results add to mounting evidence of a sustained housing recovery at the start of the spring buying season, the traditional peak period for home sales.
Steady job growth, low mortgage rates and rising home values are spurring buyers who were on the sidelines during the recession to return to the housing market.
U.S. sales of new homes rose 1.5 percent in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000, according to the Commerce Department. The sales pace dipped in February from January's 445,000 — the fastest pace since July 2008.
New-home sales are still below the 700,000 pace considered healthy by most economists. But the pace has increased 18.5 percent from 352,000 in March last year.
For the January-March quarter, Standard Pacific's net income after paying preferred dividends was $12.9 million, or 5 cents per share, which matched analysts' consensus forecast, according to FactSet. In the 2012 quarter the builder reported net income of $4.8 million, or 2 cents per share.
Total revenue jumped 60 percent to $357.7 million, above the $354.1 million analysts expected.
Standard Pacific, which builds homes in seven states, booked 1,394 net orders for new homes during the quarter and completed sales on 947 homes.
The builder ended the quarter with a backlog of 1,851 homes under contract, an increase of 90 percent from a year ago. Backlog is a key indicator of potential future revenue.
Standard Pacific closed the quarter with 158 open communities, flat compared to a year ago.
The builder's shares closed up 35 cents, or 3.9 percent, at $9.32. Shares are up about 27 percent this year.