Zillow's stock saw strong gains in February after the company issued aggressive long-term growth targets during its fourth-quarter report. Zillow said that, within three to five years, it expects to purchase 5,000 homes per month in its recently launched homes segment and generate annualized revenue of approximately $20 billion. The company also plans to originate more than 3,000 loans per month in its mortgages segment within this same time period. Investors cheered this ambitious growth plan, and the stock rose sharply.
But on March 15, analysts at Barclays downgraded Zillow's stock to underweight from equal weight. Barclays predicts that margins will decline in the company's home segment, due to slowing transaction times and mispriced inventory, as well as higher operating costs as Zillow attempts to scale the business in the coming quarters. Barclays also forecasts slowing growth in Zillow's premier agent business, due in part to recent changes in the company's advertising model. These concerns seem to have spooked investors, and the stock gave back most of February's gains by the end of March.
Zillow's shares have already bounced back 7% so far in April. The Federal Reserve recently announced that it was backing away from its plan to raise rates later this year. Investors now appear to be pricing in the potential for lower mortgage rates to spur home sales and refinancing activity. Recently released data shows that new home sales are at an 11-month high, and refinance applications jumped 39% this past week. These stronger housing market trends bode well for Zillow's stock going forward.