* Fourth-quarter earnings $0.57 vs est $0.44
* Home sale revenue rises 9 pct
* Average selling price climbs 13 pct
* To spend $700 mln more on land in 2014
* Shares rise as much as 5 pct premarket
Jan 30 U.S. homebuilder PulteGroup Inc's
fourth-quarter revenue rose 9 percent after the company raised
selling prices, taking advantage of the shrinking supply of
existing homes and a shortage of land ready to build on.
The No.2 U.S. homebuilder, whose shares rose as much as 5
percent in premarket trading, said it would step up spending on
land in 2014 even though orders have fallen.
When demand slowed recently due to higher mortgage rates,
No.1 U.S. homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc and PulteGroup
were hit more than some smaller peers due to their lower
presence in city centers.
Orders booked by PulteGroup, which caters to first-time
buyers and first move-up buyers, fell 18 percent to 3,214 homes
in the quarter ended Dec. 31.
However, as consumer confidence grows in the economy and
Americans get comfortable with higher interest rates, PulteGroup
plans to spend about $700 million more on land compared with
last year, bringing the total investment in 2014 to $2 billion.
Larger peer D.R. Horton Inc reported a 4 percent
rise in quarterly orders on Tuesday and said it expected a "very
strong" spring home-selling season.
PulteGroup has slowed the pace at which it builds houses and
has instead relied on raising selling prices to drive revenue.
PulteGroup's average sales price rose 13 percent to $325,000
in the quarter, more than offsetting the impact of a 4 percent
fall in homes completed.
The company's net income jumped nearly four times to $220.1
million, or 57 cents per share, in the fourth quarter from $58.7
million, or 15 cents per share, a year earlier.
Analysts on average had expected 44 cents per share,
according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Home sale revenue rose to $1.61 billion from $1.48 billion.
PulteGroup shares have dropped 9 percent in the past year
while Dow Jones Home Construction index fell 5
The stock, which closed at $19.43 on the New York Stock
Exchange on Wednesday, was up at $20.40 in premarket trading on