Financial analysts eye some home builders’ futures

Five years into a housing meltdown, questions are coming up about how long some publicly held home builders can survive without significant improvement in the market.

September 01, 2011
home builders, market, housing market

Five years into a housing meltdown, questions are coming up about how long some publicly held home builders can survive without significant improvement in the market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

So far, home builders have been able to stave off disaster by sharply cutting employees and shrinking their product mix to compete with existing homes. Several Obama administration stimulus measures also helped the builders, including a tax break that allowed the builders to pocket $2.6 billion in tax refunds and a home-buyer tax credit that temporarily lifted sales last year.

But the lifelines are running out, and home sales aren't expected to pick up anytime soon.

Two operators that other analysts are watching closely are Hovnanian Enterprises and Beazer Homes. Some analysts believe both companies are running low on cash. Both companies have seen their stock prices decline nearly 60 percent so far this year—making them the sector's biggest decliners—and both have traded below $2 a share.

To be sure, the shares of most of the major builders have fallen so far this year. Tolls Brothers shares are down about 10 percent, while Lennar has dropped 22 percent.

On Tuesday, Hovnanian shares closed at $1.75 apiece and Beazer ended at $2.19.

For more information: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903352704576540630328500862.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories

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