(Reuters) - D.R. Horton Inc (DHI.N), the largest U.S. homebuilder, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as it sold more homes, and said the all-important spring selling season was off to a "great" start.
D.R. Horton's shares were up 3.3 percent at $32.45 in premarket trading on Thursday.
Housing remains a bright spot amid indications that economic growth slowed to a crawl in the first three months of the year. Growth in housing is being supported by a buoyant job market, which has resulted in higher demand for homes.
Smaller rival PulteGroup Inc (PHM.N) also reported a better-than-expected profit on Thursday as it sold more homes at higher prices.
D.R. Horton handed over 9,262 homes in the second quarter ended March 31, an increase of 12 percent, and said net sales orders rose 10 percent to 12,292 homes.
The spring selling season, which typically runs March through June, is to homebuilders what holiday season sales are to retailers.
D.R. Horton's orders grew across the United States, except the east, led by 25 percent growth in the southeast, which is D.R. Horton's biggest market in terms of revenue.
The company's net income rose to $195.1 million, or 52 cents per share, in the second quarter ended March 31, from $147.9 million, or 40 cents per share, a year earlier.
Revenue rose 15.5 percent to $2.70 billion.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of 47 cents, on revenue $2.69 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S/.
Up to Wednesday's close, D.R. Horton's shares had fallen about 2 percent this year, while PulteGroup's shares rose 7.6 percent. This compares with a 1.3 percent decline in the Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction index (.DJUSHB).
(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)