NVR Inc., Reston, Va. (NYSE:NVR) on Thursday before market open reported a profit of $15.17 million, or $2.52 per share, for its first quarter ended March 31. Analysts were expecting a gain of $4.58 per share.

Though net income and earnings per share dropped 53% and 50%, respectively, from the comparable quarter in 2010 first quarter, the profit came despite a 13% decline in revenue to $514.5 million and a 59% drop in pretax home-building income to $18.9 million.

Home-building revenue was also down 13% to $502.7 million as closings dropped 15% to 1,634 units. The average closing price rose 2.2% to $307,600.

New orders in the quarter fell 18% to 2,403 units. The average new-order price rose 3.2% to $295,800. The cancellation rate rose to 12% from 9% in the first quarter of 2010 but was down from 18% in the previous quarter.

Backlog at quarter's end was down 19% to 3,685 units from the same period last year. Backlog dollar value declined 13% to $1.17 billion a decrease of 13% when compared to the same period last year. The average backlog price was up 7.4% to $316,600.

Gross profit margins were 16.9% in the quarter, down from 18.4% for the same period in 2010. SG&A increased 10.6% to $67.2 million.

Mortgage closed loan production of $353.6 million fell 15% from the same period last year and pre-tax income for mortgage banking operations decreased 14% to $5.96 million. The capture rate fell to 87% from 90% in the prior year quarter.

NVR ended the quarter with $1.22 billion in home-building cash, up from$1.19 billion at the end of the 2010 first quarter. Term debt was listed at$1.7 million and non-recourse debt at $7.6 million.

Shares of NVR were trading down more than 5% at $734.15 at 10 a.m. a half hour into the Thursday session.