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MIAMI-Based on its merger with US Homes, locally-based Lennar Corp. expects actual fiscal 2000 earnings to leap ahead of estimates. Earnings for the year ended Nov. 30 will exceed $3.50 per share. That’s 13 cents a share above the forecasts of eight analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial. Year-end results are due Jan. 20.

Citing confidence in a strong housing market and plans for improved profit margins, Lennar projects earnings near $4 per share next year. Industry analysts estimates are again a tad lower, pegging future earnings at $3.88 per share. Lennar says its net debt to total capital ratio should fall below 4%.

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