D.R. Horton (DHI) started its fiscal year with a double-digit profit increase for the first quarter, as orders for new homes rose.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based homebuilder earned $27.7 million, or 9 cents a share, for the three months ended Dec. 31, compared to a loss of $20.4 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier.

First-quarter revenue increased 15% to $885.6 million from $767 million a year earlier. The number of homes closed during the quarter climbed to 4,118 compared to 3,637 in the three months ended Dec. 31, 2010.

Net sales orders for the first quarter rose 13% to 3,794 homes worth $823.2 million from 3,363 homes valued at $705.6 million the prior year.

D.R. Horton’s cancellation rate for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 was 26%. The company’s backlog of homes under contract at Dec. was 4,530 worth $975 million, up 18% from a year earlier when it was 3,854 homes and $795.4 million.

“Our net sales orders, homes closed and sales order backlog all increased by double-digit percentages over the prior-year quarter. We are looking forward to the spring selling season with cautious optimism,” Chairman Donald R. Horton said.

Write to Justin T. Hilley.

Follow him on Twitter @JustinHilley.

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