Beazer Homes USA (BZH) said preliminary data for its fiscal fourth quarter show home orders up 33% from a year ago and closings 23% above 2010 levels. The homebuilder said orders in the fourth quarter hit 1,006, while closings grew to 1,376 in the three months ended Sept. 30. There also was a backlog in units, totaling 1,450, which is 88% higher the year earlier fourth quarter, when the builder's results lagged following expiration of the federal homebuyer tax credit. Beazer said mortgage underwriting audit practices forced the firm to push 100 home closings from September to October. Once realized, these closings are expected to generate $23 million for the builder. The company's total cash and cash equivalents hit $646 million, while its unrestricted cash is valued approximately at $370 million. "I am pleased that we generated higher year-over-year new home orders in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011 despite a litany of global and national economic challenges," said Allan Merrill, CEO of Beazer Homes. "While we fell slightly short of our stated goal of matching last year's orders for the full year, the double-digit improvements in home sales in both our third and fourth quarters allow us to begin fiscal 2012 with a backlog of home sales nearly 90% higher than we had a year ago," he said. Write to Kerri Panchuk.