updated 11/16/2005 7:55:59 AM ET 2005-11-16T12:55:59

D.R. Horton Inc., one of the nation’s biggest homebuilders, said Wednesday fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 61 percent on a 45 percent rise in revenue.

Net income for the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to a company record $563.8 million, or $1.77 per share, from $349.6 million, or $1.11 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue increased to $5.02 billion from $3.46 billion, and homes closed increased 38 percent to 18,622 homes from 13,452 homes in the year-ago quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial forecast, on average, income of $1.63 a share on sales of $4.7 billion.

The company’s sales order backlog of homes under contract at Sept. 30, was a fiscal year-end record $5.8 billion, or 19,244 homes, the company said, up 28 percent from $4.6 billion, or 17,184 homes, a year ago.

D.R. Horton, which builds homes in 25 states, raised its earnings-per-share target for fiscal 2006 to between $5.22 and $5.32. This assumes the company will close about 58,000 homes and generate more than $15.5 billion in revenue.

Previously, the company forecast fiscal 2006 earnings per share of $5 to $5.05 on about $15 billion in consolidated revenue.

For the quarter ending Dec. 31, the company continues to expect earnings of 90 cents to 95 cents per share.

According to Thomson Financial, the company is expected to earn $5.24 per share on sales of $16.06 billion for fiscal 2006. First-quarter earnings are expected to total 99 cents per share, according to estimates.

Chairman Donald R. Horton said in a statement, “We ended the year on an extremely positive note with a 33 percent organic increase in our fourth-quarter sales and strong sales performances in all of our regions. Our double-digit sales increase and our record $5.8 billion backlog position us for a strong start to fiscal year 2006.”

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