THE HOME BUILDING INDUSTRY GAINED respect in 2005 as more companies elbowed their way onto the exclusive Fortune 500 list. Eleven builders with an average increase in profits of just less than 45 percent pushed the industry to first among all industries in five-year return to investors. Four other builders are waiting in the wings in the Fortune 1,000. Consolidation and acquisitions helped builders evolve from regional players to companies with national scope in terms of diverse land portfolios and geographic operations. Their growth, spurred by high new-housing demand, and ability to successfully manage risk has earned the industry the reputation of being a big league player, competitive with other major U.S. industries.

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