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Why Owens Corning Stock Went Through the Roof Last Week

By Nickey Friedman - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:52PM

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Hint: an analyst beat isn't the only reason.

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 Owens Corning (OC -1.20%) nearly shattered its seven-year high, rising as much as 14.9% following its fourth-quarter and full-year results.

So what: Revenue for the fourth quarter climbed 10.3% to $1.3 billion while adjusted earnings leaped 300% to $52 million or $0.44 per share. These figures beat analyst expectations by nearly 6% and 63% respectively.

Owens Corning initiated a quarterly dividend of $0.16 per share. This is due to "confidence of the Board of Directors in the company's long-term financial outlook and cash flow generation" as the company expects further growth for 2014.

Now what: Owens Corning expects the market itself to grow due to an improving U.S. housing market, moderate global growth, and increased new residential construction. It believes this will lead to improved pricing and leverage which means better profit margins on revenue.

The dividend represents the first one in 14 years. Often when companies initiate or return to paying dividends it speaks louder than any words about any confidence in the future.

It didn't hurt that on Friday it was revealed that Warren Buffett's Berkshire-Hathaway doubled up its position in gypsum wallboard manufacturer and distributor USG Corporation, giving investors further confidence in an improving housing market.

In the conference call, however, CFO Michael McMurray warned that January got off to a slow start. He believes this is just temporary due to the extreme weather and expects the pace to pick up again once the conditions begin to thaw.

As an added note of confidence for 2014, despite the initial slow start, McMurray pointed out that the company still has 8.6 million shares left in its buyback authorization that it plans to use in conjunction with its dividend to return capital to shareholders.

Despite the large beating of analyst expectations and the good news that comes with it, estimates haven't budged much for 2014. Look for these numbers to rise. With Owens Corning trading at around 18 times current estimates, the company deserves a closer look by Fools especially considering its rapid earnings growth.

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