Sector Snap: homebuilders mixed

AP News

12/19/2012 3:02:56 PM - AP News

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of homebuilders were mixed on Wednesday, which an analyst said could be related to a bit of profit-taking by investors following continued signs of improvement in the sector.

On Monday homebuilders' stocks rose as a new survey showed that top business economists believe that modest growth will be ongoing in 2013, led by rising demand for housing.

The survey was released by the National Association for Business Economics. Based on the survey, NABE sees economic growth of 2.1 percent after 2.2 percent growth in 2012.

On Wednesday the Commerce Department reported that U.S. builders broke ground on fewer homes in November after starting work in October at the fastest pace in four years. Superstorm Sandy likely slowed starts in the Northeast.

The Commerce Department said that builders began construction of houses and apartments at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 861,000. That was 3 percent less than October's annual rate of 888,000, the fastest since July 2008.

Will Randow of Citi Investment Research was undeterred by the decline in housing starts, saying that the figure tends to drop through year-end even on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The decline also follows months of strong gains. Housing starts remain on track for their best year in four years, and the housing market overall appears to be sustaining its recovery.

Randow said that he predicted on Sunday that strong housing data this week could provide short-term trading opportunities. But Randow believes that window of opportunity is likely closing, even though he feels more strongly that existing home sales — which are being reported on Thursday — will come in better than expected.

Here's a look at how some homebuilders are doing in afternoon trading:

— Toll Brothers Inc. shed 21 cents to $32.30.

— KB Home dipped 1 cent to $16.99.

— PulteGroup Inc. added 13 cents to $18.74.

— Meritage Homes Corp. fell 43 cents to $38.37.

— Lennar Corp. declined 5 cents to $39.66.

— D.R. Horton Inc. gained 12 cents to $20.20.

— Beazer Homes USA Inc. climbed 9 cents to $16.51.

— Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. added 4 cents to $6.09.

— Ryland Group Inc. gained 72 cents to $38.11.

— Standard Pacific Corp. rose 7 cents to $7.30.

— MDC Holdings Inc. climbed 89 cents to $37.69.

— M/I Homes Inc. added 16 cents to $25.61.

— NVR Inc. dropped $4.57 to $952.05.