Toll Brothers Inc., the largest U.S. luxury home builder, reported net income of $15 million in the fiscal fourth quarter ending Oct. 31, or nine cents per diluted share, down from $50.5 million, or 30 cents per share, in 2010.

The sharp drop in net income was attributed to a $59.9 million net tax benefit last year. Toll Brothers had $15.3 million in fourth quarter pre-tax income, compared to a $9.5 million loss in 2010. It benefitted from the strength of increased home sales and prices, particularly in the Northeast.

The company beat out forecasts by analysts polled by Bloomberg, who had predicted a net income of six cents per share.

Against a backdrop of U.S. government gridlock and persistently high unemployment rates at home, political and economic crises around the globe, and dramatic volatility in the capital markets, we produced our second consecutive quarter of pre-tax profitability and our sixth consecutive quarter of pre-tax, pre-impairment profitability, said Douglas Yearley, CEO of Toll Brothers, in a statement.

Although U.S. housing stats remain down 60 percent from historical norms, we produced solid improvement in most key metrics in [fiscal year] 2011, he added.

For the entire fiscal year of 2011, Toll Brothers had net income of $39.8 million, or 24 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $3.4 million, or two cents per share, in 2010.

Despite declining home prices and high foreclosure rates throughout the country, Toll Brothers' portfolio was a testament to the strength of luxury housing in strong markets.

Fourth quarter revenue was $427 million, with 757 home units delivered, up six percent and eight percent, respectively, from 2010's $402.6 million and 700 units. Fourth quarter net signed contracts totaled $390 million and 644 units, up 24 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from 2010's $315.3 million and 558 units The company's average price for homes was $606,000 in the fourth quarter, up $565,000 from the previous year.

During the year, Toll Brothers spent around $281 million for development land, purchasing 3,400 lots. Nearly 60 percent of the lots were between Washington, D.C. and Boston, Mass., a strong housing region.

It opened three new developments in the New York metro region during the year: 1450 Washington Avenue in Hoboken, N.J., the Touraine on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, and 205 Water Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. In total, Toll Brothers has completed 13 buildings in the New York area and sold around 2,430 of 2,550 units. It is constructing three buildings totaling 245 units and has eight more buildings with 1,600 additional units planned.

The urban metro New York City market remains a bright light for us, said Yearley in a statement.

Shares of the company were trading around $20.90 on Tuesday.