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UPDATE 1-Lennar profit tops as low interest rates boost home sales

(Compares with estimates, adds details on homes sold, average price)

Sept 14 (Reuters) - U.S. homebuilder Lennar Corp topped Wall Street estimates for quarterly profit and revenue on Monday as record-low mortgage rates boosted demand from buyers.

The U.S. housing sector is emerging as one of the few areas of strength in an economy suffering a record slowdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with U.S. homebuilding accelerating by the most in nearly four years in July.

Lennar said orders, an indictor of future sales, rose 16.4% to 15,564 homes in the third quarter. The company sold 13,842 homes in the period, up from 13,522 homes a year earlier, while the average price of homes sold rose to $396,000 from $394,000.

“Fundamentals in the housing market continued to remain strong supported by record low interest rates and a continued undersupply of new and existing inventory,” Executive Chairman Stuart Miller said.

Net earnings attributable to the company rose to $666.4 million, or $2.12 per share, in the three months ended Aug. 31, from $513.4 million, or $1.59 per share, a year earlier.

That was underpinned by a jump in gross margin on home sales, which rose to 23.1%, from 20.4% a year earlier.

Revenue rose marginally to $5.87 billion.

Analysts on average had expected Lennar to earn $1.55 per share on revenue of $5.48 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. (Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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