(Corrects sixth paragraph to say the Fed has cut interest rates 'thrice' this year)
By Sanjana Shivdas
Nov 12 (Reuters) - D.R. Horton Inc topped expectations for profit and revenue in the fourth quarter and forecast 2020 home sales above analysts' estimates, as cheaper mortgage rates buoyed demand from buyers, sending shares in the biggest U.S. homebuilder up 3%.
Home sales rose 9.2% to 16,024 units in the quarter, underpinning a 10-cent beat on profit as it predicted it would sell more than 60,000 homes next year.
JMP Securities analyst Peter Martin said that lower official interest rates and the company's strategy of building more affordable homes had eased some of the tensions hurting its results a year ago.
"Last year this time we had the highest pessimism because of rising interest rates, people were pulling back on affordability and builders were out of homes at the lower-end price points," he said.
"If they (Horton) can keep supplying homes at a lower price point, and stay in the current range of interest rates, I think they are going to have a very nice year."
The Federal Reserve has lowered borrowing costs thrice this year to offset headwinds caused by more than a year long trade war between the United States and China, and slowing global growth.
Horton, which builds roughly 10% of all new U.S. homes, said it expects sales in 2020 to be between 60,000 and 61,000 homes, compared with analysts' estimates of 59,737 homes.
Orders, an indicator of future demand, rose 14.1% to 13,130 homes in the quarter.
U.S. homebuilding tumbled from a more than a 12-year high in September, but single-family home construction rose for a fourth straight month, suggesting the housing market remains supported by lower mortgage rates even as the economy is slowing.
Horton also forecast 2020 revenue between $18.5 billion and $19.0 billion, compared with estimates of $18.58 billion.
Net income attributable to the company rose 8.4% to $505.3 million, or $1.35 per share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30. Revenue rose 11.7% to $5.04 billion.
Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.25 per share on revenue of $4.86 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)