The Ryland Group Inc. showed signs that it is shaking off the recession as it reported third-quarter earnings that were up 20 percent from the very weak third quarter of 1990. The Columbia-based homebuilder, one of the nation's biggest and the market leader for metropolitan Baltimore, said that its third-quarter order rate also boded well for more positive earnings comparisons: Orders were up 13 percent.
That translates into more revenue and more profits during the fourth quarter and possibly the first quarter of next year, because homebuilders don't get their money until a buyer closes on a deal to buy a house. That can take anywhere from several weeks to several months while the home is built and the buyer lines up a mortgage and tends to other details.
Ryland said that high profits from its financial services operations were the driving force behind its first positive quarterly earnings comparison of 1991, but the company said that it also got a modest boost from improving homebuilding markets.