Homebuilder Horton Beats Estimates, Expects Full-year Profit (DHI, PHM, LEN, HOV, TOL, NVR, KBH, XHB)

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Hopes for a recovery in homebuilding have picked up recently, primarily as a result of pent-up demand for new household formation. All those college grads who moved back in with their parents are supposedly getting jobs and looking to move out. Same for families that have doubled up with relatives and friends.

The country’s largest homebuilders have been improving a little in the first quarter, and that improvement is expected to increase in the second half of the year. D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE: DHI), PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM), Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN), Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV), Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL), NVR Inc. (NYSE: NVR), KB Home (NYSE: KBH) and other builders still face headwinds from falling prices as distressed sales continue.

Last week’s report from the National Association of Realtors indicated that existing inventories have continued to decline, a good sign for homebuilders. There has been a large increase in sales of existing homes to investors and private equity firms who plan to rent out the homes to all those new households. As the inventory declines, prices could begin to rise again, until those homeowners who want to sell finally see their chance (call it ‘pent-up supply’).

D.R. Horton, which released its quarterly results today, posted better than expected EPS and revenue, with EPS coming in a $0.13 on total revenue of $935.6 million. The consensus estimates had called for EPS of $0.04 on revenue of $853.4 million. Horton’s sales, closings, and backlog all finished the quarter with double-digit growth year-over-year. That’s fine, of course, but the market for new houses in the first quarter of last year was pretty awful, so that puts some perspective on this year’s spurt.

Here’s a quick look at the other builders and their most recent reports and expectations for the next quarter.

PulteGroup Inc. (NYSE: PHM) is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday. The consensus estimate calls for an EPS loss of -$0.03 on sales of $836.6 million. In the same period a year ago the company posted an EPS loss of -$0.10. PulteGroup is currently expected to post EPS of $0.04 in its June quarter and full-year EPS of $0.22, with about half that expected in the third quarter. The company’s shares are up nearly 33% since January and up 7.6% for the last 12 months.

Lennar Corp. (NYSE: LEN) posted EPS of $0.08 for its quarter ended in February, double the consensus estimate. For the quarter ending in May, the company is expected to put up EPS of $0.17 on revenue of $883.8 million, and for the full year, EPS is forecast at $0.83. PulteGroup’s shares are up about 31% since the beginning of the year and up more than 36% in the past year.

Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. (NYSE: HOV) has had a rough few years. In its most recent quarter, the company posted an EPS loss of -17% and the consensus estimate for the quarter ending in April is for an EPS loss of -$0.32. For the full-year the company is expected to post an EPS loss of -$1.02. Year-to-date shares are up about 37%, but for the past 12 months shares have lost nearly -44%.

Toll Brothers Inc. (NYSE: TOL) posted an EPS loss of -$0.02 in its January quarter, but the consensus estimate for the April quarter calls for EPS of $0.03. For the full-year, the forecast is for EPS of $0.33, with about half of that coming in the company’s fourth quarter. Year-to-date and for the past 12 months Toll Brothers is up about 17%.

NVR Inc. (NYSE: NVR) reported first quarter EPS of $3.90 last week, below the consensus estimate of $4.16. For the June quarter the company is expected to show EPS of $8.80 and for the full year EPS is expected to come in at $33.87. NVR’s shares are up about 12.8% since the beginning of the year, and for the past 12 months shares are up 6.7%.

KB Home (NYSE: KBH) reported an EPS loss of -$0.59 in its first quarter, about 2.5x the consensus estimate. For the May quarter the EPS loss is estimated to be -$0.33, an improvement of nearly 60% from the same period a year ago. KB Home’s shares are up 16.8% year-to-date, but off more than -31% in the past 12 months.

D.R. Horton opened up 1.5% this morning, at $15.61 in a 52-week range of $8.03-$16.45.

The S&P Homebuilders ETF (AMEX: XHB) opened lower this morning at $20.23 in a 52-week range of $12.22-$21.98.

Paul Ausick

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