U.S. Markets closed

Meritage posts 4Q profit, reversing year-ago loss

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Meritage Homes on Thursday posted fourth-quarter net income of $95.1 million, reversing a loss in the final three months of 2011, helped by the resurgence in demand for new homes and a tax benefit.

Meritage's profit amounted to $2.49 per share and compared with a loss of $11.8 million, or 36 cents per share, in the same quarter the prior year.

The recent quarter's results included a $71.5 million tax benefit. Excluding the effects of that, the company posted an adjusted profit of 63 cents per share. Total revenue from home and land sales closings jumped 48 percent to $364.6 million from $246 million in the 2011 quarter.

Analysts, on average, expected adjusted profit of 42 cents per share on $355.6 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Meritage said its home closings increased 39 percent to 1,240 units, while the average price of the homes sold rose 7 percent to $294,000. Meanwhile, home orders increased 46 percent to 1,094 homes and the average price of those homes rose 17 percent to $323,000.

The company's cancelation rate fell to 13 percent from 19 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

For the full year 2012, Meritage earned $105.2 million, or $3 per share, compared with a loss of $21.1 million, or 65 cents per share, in 2011. Total closing revenue increased to $1.19 billion from $861.2 million.

Meritage shares rose 90 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $44.06 in morning trading.