Housing Stocks Hit By Weaker Than Expected Builder Sentiment

DR Horton, Hovnanian, Home Depot, and Lowe's all lose ground as investors worry about the future of the housing industry.

Feb 18, 2014 at 3:30PM

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

With 30 minutes of trading left in today's session, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down seven points, or 0.04%, the S&P 500 if up 0.21%, and the Nasdaq is higher by 0.77%. While Coca-Cola's weak earnings report this morning can be partially blamed for the Dow moving into the red today, the market as a whole is also faced with a much worse than expected homebuilder sentiment report.

The National Association of Home Builders today said its housing market index fell to a reading of 46 in February, down 10 points from January. A reading above 50 indicates that the market is strengthening, so anything below that is not a good sign. The reading was taken from survey responses from 321 builders around the country on how they felt about the housing market. While builders used the weather as one reason for their poor outlook, other reasons given were a shortage of skilled workers, limited land for construction, and delays in obtaining building materials.  

This report is likely one reason shares of some the housing stocks are moving lower today: homebuilders DR Horton (NYSE:DHI)and Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV) are respectively down by 1.3% and 1.4%, while home improvement retailers Home Depot (NYSE:HD) and Lowe's (NYSE:LOW) have separately dropped 0.4% and 0.7%.

With shares of the two homebuilders on a tear the last five years (DR Horton up 160.5% and Hovnanian higher by 345.4%, compared against the S&P 500's 133.3% rise during the same time frame) as the housing industry firmed up, a slight pullback now shouldn't hurt investors' confidence. As with any recovery, there are ups and downs along the way, and unfortunately this may just be one of those downs. If you believe we will need more homes in the future, than prices of new homes will likely continue to climb, thus these businesses should continue to profit. One thing to watch for, though, is the builders' issue of finding skilled labor and build-ready land. Should these factors remain challenging, costs may rapidly increase as higher wages will be needed to attract and retain workers; a possible increase to land prices could also certainly hurt margins.

Meanwhile, Home Depot and Lowe's thrive when new homes are being sold, so a slowdown will likely hurt growth rates. Simply put, homeowners spend more at these retailers than renters. But as with the homebuilders, investors shouldn't be overly concerned about this single survey report coming up weaker than expected. This is the first sentiment report to fall below 50 since May 2013, so as of right now this is not yet a trend, but rather perhaps just a one-time occurrence due to mainly the weather. If the index continues to fall below the 50 mark, and we see a true shift in the housing market, then investors should consider taking a deeper look at the retailers and determine whether to continue holding or sell.

Looking for the next BIG thing, Look no further

Opportunities to get wealthy from a single investment don't come around often, but they do exist, and our chief technology officer believes he's found one. In this free report, Jeremy Phillips shares the single company that he believes could transform not only your portfolio, but your entire life. To learn the identity of this stock for free and see why Jeremy is putting more than $100,000 of his own money into it, all you have to do is click here now.


Matt Thalman owns shares of Home Depot. The Motley Fool recommends Home Depot. 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.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers