Buy and hold has its advantages, but there's also something to be said for staying nimble and alert to underlying shifts in industries. Take the case of construction. Residential construction stocks like Hovnanian (NYSE:HOV) and Lennar (NYSE:LEN) certainly had a run, but anybody's who hung on lately has been bruised a bit. On the flip side, non-residential ideas like Shaw Group (NYSE:SGR) and NCIBuilding Systems (NYSE:NCS) have come into their own.

In the case of NCI Building Systems, there's definitely some growth afoot for this manufacturer of building components like roof systems, flashings, and sectional doors. Revenue for the latest quarter rose 31% on a 26% increase in tonnage, and growth would have still been robust without the recently acquired Robertson-Ceco business.

It wasn't all smooth sledding, though. Gross margins were affected by warranty costs and virtually no margin at all on a specific complex project. What's more, costs related to stock compensation expense and such hurt the operating line. All that said, while reported earnings growth doesn't look especially strong, the underlying business is in better shape than you might gather from a quick look.

From where I sit, NCI Building Systems has a few different avenues toward improving performance. First, there's the underlying growth in non-residential construction. It's looking for 5% growth (in square footage terms) this fiscal year, and anecdotal evidence like the sales levels at companies like JLG (NYSE:JLG) and Manitowoc (NYSE:MTW) suggest that somebody is planning for more building activity.

Also, NCI Building Systems can continue to gain share just by outperforming its peers. Last and not least, it should be able to reap leverage and synergies from the Robertson-Ceco buy. The company has done pretty well with past acquisitions (even with the construction market in a down cycle), so the tailwind of an improving market should only help.

I certainly liked this stock about 50% ago. And I do think the move this past year has baked in a lot of the assumptions I'd be willing to make about improving conditions in the non-residential market. That said, it's easy to outsmart yourself by abandoning winning ideas too soon. So while I wouldn't argue with taking some money off the table and/or putting in protective stops, I wouldn't rush to the exits just yet.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson but has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).