Red Bank, N.J.'s Hovnanian Enterprises, which completed five acquisitions in the past 12 months, reported a 46 percent increase over the previous year in net contracts in the first fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31, to 3,133 homes. The new orders boosted Hovnanian's contract backlog to 6,436 homes, up 66 percent from a year ago. The company reported it delivered 2,901 homes (exclusive of joint ventures) during its latest quarter, an increase of 27 percent over the prior year.

Hovnanian announced it has 288 communities under development, up from 233 communities at the end of January 2003. Despite the cold winter in the Northeast and heavy rains in the Southeast, the builder is not changing its earnings projections: $1.65 per share for the quarter ended Jan. 31, 2004, an increase of 22 percent over $1.35 in the first quarter of 2003.

Toll Brothers was hit harder by severe winter weather. Its first quarter revenue increased 6 percent to $590.1 million, but it delivered 1,085 homes, fewer than expected, and the Huntington Valley, Pa.-based builder cut its 2004 home delivery forecast by 100 homes, based on predictions of continued harsh weather. It now expects to deliver between 5,900 and 6,300 homes in fiscal 2004, compared with 4,911 homes in 2003.