Good news from a home-building company? Who'da thunk it? Actually, this isn't exactly new for Lennar
Like pretty much any other homebuilder, Lennar had an excellent quarter by conventional measures. Sales were up better than 40%, gross margins from homebuilding improved, and earnings from continuing operations were up a zesty 55%. Just as good, new orders were up 25%, backlog was up 36% on a dollar value of homes basis, and the company reaffirmed guidance for the next year that implies mid-single digit growth.
I would imagine that Lennar has an interesting perspective on the whole housing bubble debate, seeing as the company is headquartered in Miami -- one of the areas often pegged as an example of a bubble. Of course, management isn't buying that chatter -- acknowledging that momentum may be slowing to more normal (and reasonable?) rates of growth, but that a good job and interest rate environment should help bulwark the sector.
And you know, to some extent, I think they might be right. From an overall perspective, the job environment is pretty good and interest rates are still pretty low on an historical basis. If nothing else, history has demonstrated that Americans like to live up to or beyond their means. So as long as people have jobs and see their wages go up, there should be some support for housing prices.
Lennar also has a couple of other advantages working for it. The company is well-diversified across the country and builds in 14 states. So while markets like California and Florida may have gotten a little nutty and might see a sharp correction, other markets like North Carolina haven't gotten quite so crazy. Furthermore, the company has a sizable inventory of land and should be able to continue to take market share away from smaller builders that are less cost-competitive.
So am I planning on buying up shares of Lennar (or other homebuilders)? Nope. Just because I don't think that the residential real estate market is going to collapse in a heap, that doesn't mean that I'm keen on buying these stocks. Maybe estimates are conservative, and maybe the companies will see a soft landing and ongoing growth. But then again, maybe they won't. Either way, I have too many other good ideas on my watch list to take the chance on Lennar.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).