I love a good turnaround story, and for investors, there’s no greater turnaround story right now than the housing market.
I wasn’t convinced at first. But now, after a few months of steady progress, I’m a believer. Take the latest new home sales data. Americans ramped up new-home buying to the fastest pace in two years — the 389,000 annual pace blew expert estimates out of the water. And last week, both September housing starts and building permits surged to a four-year high.
So it comes as no surprise that the residential construction industry’s profits are forecast to surge 641% this quarter. General building materials companies are headed toward 73% bottom-line growth, and even home improvement stores stand to profit –earnings are expected to rise 29%.
Impressive numbers to say the least, but if you can’t properly capitalize on that growth, it’s about as useful as a screen door on a submarine. That’s why I’m going to run down three of the most promising housing plays that you might want to consider owning now. And a bonus: Two are set to announce earnings next week.
Automating the Homebuying Process
Ellie Mae (NYSE:ELLI) is a huge beneficiary from the growing regulatory demands placed on lenders. That’s because its Encompass software handles business and management functions for mortgage originators. In fact, this software is so good that it reduces the average cost per mortgage by $3,000. So it comes as no surprise that between Encompass 360 and its Datatrac software, this company is responsible for handling nearly a third of the national volume of loans.
When you buy Ellie Mae stock, you’re buying into one of the best-performing companies in the application software industry. While the rest of this industry is headed toward just 12.8% earnings growth this quarter, analysts expect Ellie Mae’s bottom line to surge 122.2%!
Ellie Mae reports earnings after the close Oct. 31. Given its track record of stunning earnings surprises, it shouldn’t disappoint.
America’s Luxury Homebuilder
Based in Pennsylvania, Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) is the 15th-largest homebuilder in the industry, and it has been on fire lately. This company is known for building luxury homes across 20 states, drawing in $1.5 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal year. With operations across dozens of major suburban market and metropolitan areas, Toll Brothers has its finger in several pots, including land developing, golf course management, landscaping services and even mortgage services.
One glance at this conservative stock’s Portfolio Grader page tells you just how far TOL has come in the past year. And while TOL has surged 91% in the past 12 months, its run isn’t over by a long shot. This quarter, Toll Brothers is expected to post 32% sales growth and 167% earnings growth. And given that the past two quarters have brought triple-digit earnings surprises (yes, you read that correctly), I can’t wait for Toll Brothers’ next earnings announcement, due in early December.
Laying the Foundation for a Recovery
Of course, all of the materials that go into a house have to come from somewhere, and that’s where Eagle Materials (NYSE:EXP) comes in. This is a top manufacturer of cement, concrete and drywall. Within the cement industry, Eagle Materials stands out in terms of bottom-line growth and return on equity and its 0.8% dividend yield.
And just like TOL, EXP has vastly improved in the past year. But it’s not too late to get in on this stock’s incredible run. For its Oct. 29 earnings announcement, analysts expect 24% sales growth and 236% earnings growth. And when we consider that analysts have upped their estimates by nearly 10% during the past three months, I expect Eagle Materials stock to grab headlines when it reports earnings.
In a world where emerging markets are slowing down and Europe is at a standstill, it’s refreshing to see bright spots like this in the U.S. economy. Even Warren Buffett recently said on CNBC that the housing market has turned a corner, and I agree. So while these companies announce ballooning profits this quarter, there’s no excuse not to get in on the action.
And as three A-rated stocks, I consider ELLI, TOL and EXP a great place to start.
Louis Navellier is the editor of Blue Chip Growth, Emerging Growth, Quantum Growth, Global Growth, Platinum Growth Club and the Navellier Family Trust. He is also Chairman and Founder of Navellier & Associates, a mutual fund and institutional management company. As of this writing, Louis held a position in ELLI and TOL.