Investors who bought housing stocks at the beginning of the year after two and a half years of steep declines are being rewarded for their prescience.
As the Federal Reserve started cutting interest rates, the stocks of home builders Toll Brothers, Lennar, and Hovnanian rose 40 percent, 52 percent, and 96 percent respectively.
Some analysts believe these increases portend sunnier days ahead for the entire housing industry.
“What took us into this malaise will be what takes us out,” Bill Miller, portfolio manager for the Legg Mason Value Trust, wrote this week in a letter to the fund’s shareholders. “Housing stocks peaked in the summer of 2005 and were the first group to start down. Now housing stocks are one of the few areas in the market that are up for the year.”
“Stocks are predictive of the industry about six to nine months ahead of time,” adds Justin Walters of Bespoke Investment Group in Harrison, N.Y. He says he is bullish on the sector, noting that house-price futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange have been forecasting a bottom in house prices in many U.S. markets toward the end of 2008.
Source: Fortune, Colin Barr (02/14/08)