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ATLANTA-Beazer Homes USA Inc. posted third fiscal quarter diluted earnings per share (before an extraordinary item) of $2.15, up 71% versus $1.26 in the prior year. The record performance moved the locally based builder two years ahead of its five-year earnings goal to hit $9 per share by 2004. Beazer expects to reach the $9 mark next year.

“Our record backlog gives us a strong indication that this trend will continue,” Ian J. McCarthy, Beazer’s president/CEO, says in a prepared statement on the results ended June 30.

The numbers show the locally based homebuidling, mortgage and title insurance company did everything right in its third quarter.

For example: Diluted earnings per share totaled $2.07, up 64%. The figure includes an extraordinary loss of eight cents per share for early debt retirement.

Net income (before an extraordinary item) was $19.9 million, up 88%. Home closings totaled 2,276, up 15%. Total revenue of $449 million was up 15%. Record gross margin (before interest) on home sales was 19.3%, up 240 basis points.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (and before an extraordinary item) came to $43.4 million, up 65%. The EBITDA margin was 9.7%, up 300 basis points.

Record new home orders in June totaled 2,873, up 31%. Beazer’s record backlog of 4,636 homes was up 34%. The sales value of the backlog was $892 million, up 31%.

After the June quarter, the company’s earnings for the last 12 months are $7.53 per share. “This figure exceeds the high end of the range that we previously indicated we expected to achieve in fiscal 2001,” McCarthy says in the prepared statement.

The company’s common on the New York Stock Exchange at 1 p.m. Tuesday (July 24) was trading on volume of 141,900 at $72.26 per share, down $2.93 (3.9%) from $75.19 on July 23. The stock’s 52-week high-low is $79.35 and $19.25.

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