By Alison Rice. Record profits, record closings, record backlogs: Everyone knows that 2001 was very good to builders. But just how good?

Try 100 percentage points difference between builders and the S & P. Last year, net income grew 45.8 percent for the top 10 builders (Centex, Lennar, Pulte, D.R. Horton, KB Home, The Ryland Group, NVR, Beazer Homes, M.D.C. Holdings, and K. Hovnanian Enterprises), according to data provided by Merrill Lynch building analyst Chelsey Ingenito.

Compare that to the S & P 500, whose after-tax earnings plummeted almost 50 percent in 2001.