Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of homebuilder Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV) were headed for the sky today, climbing as much as 13% on a strong new home sales report.

So what: The housing sector was up industrywide as larger peers including Toll Brothers, KBHomes, and Lennar all gained at least 3%. New home sales in January totaled 437,000, well ahead of the 383,000 economists had projected and the 378,000 new homes sold in December. Today's report also bucks the surprisingly low number of January housing starts that came out last week, which sent homebuilder stocks lower. The January new home sales figure represents the highest monthly total since July 2008.

Now what: As one of the smaller homebuilders and a more volatile stock than its peers, Hovanaian may have more to gain from the sharp increase in sales than the industry leaders. Its shares have more than tripled since June, and analysts may soon be increasing the low profit estimates they have for its fiscal 2013. For believers in the housing recovery, Hovnanian looks like a great way to play it.

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Fool contributor Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.