AZ Biz Journal – Taylor Morrison plans to top $1 billion in spending on land acquisition, development this year

Shares of Taylor Morrison Home Corp. (NYSE:TMHC) were up 3.6 percent by the end of trading Wednesday following its earnings report released earlier that morning showing a strong finish to 2013.

The Scottsdale-based home builder, which went public in April, saw its fourth-quarter earnings before income taxes climb by nearly one-third to $121.54 million. Its 42 percent plunge in year-end earnings before taxes was mostly attributed to the costs of its initial public offering that raised about $591 million.

Taylor Morrison doled out nearly $1 billion toward land acquisition and development last year, $302 million of which was spent during the fourth quarter. By the end of the year, the home builder had 45,000-plus lots throughout the U.S. and Canada under its control, up from 40,000 or so from a year ago.

“As we look to 2014, we anticipate we will spend over $1 billion in land acquisition and development,” Sheryl Palmer, Taylor Morrison’s president and CEO, said during a conference call with analysts Wednesday.

David Cone, the company’s vice president and chief financial officer, said he anticipates the community count this year “to increase 25 percent to 30 percent and closings to increase by 15 percent to 20 percent.”

Taylor Morrison posted 1,462 home sales in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, up 39 percent year-over-year, at an average price of $430,699. That average price was up 20 percent from a year ago and substantially higher than the industry norm.

For instance, the average new-home sale price in the Valley was $318,119 in November, according to the latest data from Arizona State University. The nationwide average in December was $311,400, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.