Ryland Group Inc. reported fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Thursday that beat Wall Street estimates as the company benefited from higher home sales and pricing. The Westlake Village homebuilder announced net income of $71.7 million ($1.26 a share) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to $72.2 million ($1.25) for the same quarter last year. Revenue increased 25 percent to $854 million. Analysts on average expected net income of 96 cents on revenue of $784 million, according to Thomson Financial Network. The company said new orders in the quarter rose 8.3 percent to 1,547 units, generating 14.3 percent higher sales revenue of $537 million. Closings rose 14.3 percent to 2,489 units, with the average price up 7.6 percent to $338,000. For the full year, Ryland had net income of $176 million ($3.09 a share) compared to $379 million ($6.79) for the previous year. Revenue increased 23 percent to $2.57 billion. Analysts expected per-share net income of $2.78 on revenue of $2.53 billion. The company explained the lower earnings on higher revenue as the result of a reversal of an asset valuation allowance for 2013 that cost the company a $259 million tax benefit. The decision increased the company’s tax obligation for 2014. Ryland also noted that this month it used $127 million cash on hand to settle a 5.4-percent senior-notes issue that matured this month. Shares closed up $2.95 cents, or about 8 percent, to $39.62 on the New York Stock Exchange.