Sector Snap: Homebuilders gain on home sales data

AP News
Posted: Nov 23, 2009 11:57 AM

Shares of most homebuilders moved higher Monday after a big jump in house resales last month.

The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes climbed 10.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.1 million in October, the highest level since February 2007.

The industry group said the surge in sales reflected homebuyers' rush to buy before the expected expiration of a federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time buyers on Nov. 30. Earlier this month, the government extended the credit until April 30 and created a credit of up to $6,500 for would-be buyers who have owned their current homes for five years.

Housing stocks on Monday snapped back from some deep declines Friday after D.R. Horton Inc. posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss despite a 26 percent jump in new home orders.

Broader markets also rose, with the Dow Jones industrials up 1.5 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 gaining 1.7 percent.

On Monday, a Citi Investment Research analyst upgraded D.R. Horton to "Hold" from "Sell" after the more than 15 percent drop in its stock price Friday. However, in his note to investors, Josh Levin recommended Pulte Homes Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc. as the most attractive homebuilder stocks, although both are rated "High Risk."

Shares of D.R. Horton gained 21 cents, or 2 percent, to $10.58; Beazer Homes USA Inc. rose 9 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $4.81; Hovnanian Enterprises Inc. added 6 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $4.12; Lennar Corp. edged up 10 cents to $13.77; Pulte gained 9 cents to $9.55; Standard Pacific Corp. rose 6 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $3.24; Meritage Homes Corp. added 45 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $18.65; M/I Homes Inc. gained 32 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $11.76; and NVR Inc. moved $6.75, or 1 percent, higher to $676.94.

Meanwhile, Toll Brothers fell 19 cents to $19.83; KB Home shares were down 16 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $13.96; and Ryland Group Inc. dipped 4 cents to $18.98.