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What are we looking for?

U.S. home-builder stocks with attractive valuations and strong returns on equity.

The world’s central banks seem to be in a global rate-cutting cycle, fearing the U.S-China trade war will slow global growth. The euro zone has joined Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Japan in the negative interest rate club.

Wednesday’s interest rate decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve was considered one of the most important in chairman Jerome Powell’s term so far. Although rates remained the same, there was a dovish tone from Mr. Powell; many other Federal Open Market Committee members are calling for a rate cut before the end of the year.

Home builders tend to outperform in low-rate environments. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB-NYSE) is up 26.5 per cent year-to-date. According to data from Redfin, a U.S. real-estate brokerage, the average price of U.S. homes has reached a record US$316,000, compared with US$188,000 back in 2010. Rising prices and low inventory are bullish for shares of U.S. home builders as lower interest rates boost consumer confidence.

The screen

We will be using Trading Central Strategy Builder to search for U.S. home-builder stocks that have reasonable valuations combined with strong returns on equity and low debt levels.

We begin by dialling into the home-building and construction sector. We will search for stocks with a return-on-equity ratio of 10 per cent or more. The screen will focus on stocks with a price-to-earnings ratio lower than 19, the S&P 500 average. Finally, to focus on companies with low levels of debt in case interest rates start to rise again, we will also filter to include only companies with debt-to-equity ratios of one or less.

More about Trading Central

Trading Central is a global leader in financial market research and investment analytics for retail online brokers and institutions. Trading Central’s product suite provides actionable trading ideas based on technical and fundamental research covering stocks, exchange-trade funds, indexes, forex, options and commodities.

What we found

Topping our list is D.R. Horton Inc., a leading U.S. home builder with operations in 81 markets across 27 states. D.R. Horton mainly builds single-family detached homes, representing 89 per cent of its home-sales revenue. The company also offers mortgage financing and other services through its financial services segment. It has one of the lowest debt-to-equity ratios on our list at 0.39 and a return on equity of 17.8 per cent. The market cap of D.R. Horton is the highest on our list at US$17.1-billion.

LGI Homes Inc. has been in a well-defined uptrend since November supported by its 20-day simple moving average, a technical-analysis tool. Current product offerings include entry-level homes, including both detached homes and townhomes sold under the LGI Homes brand and luxury series homes sold under the Terrata Homes banner. The company has the highest return on equity on our list at 24.5 per cent.

The investment ideas presented here are for information only. They do not constitute advice or a recommendation by Recognia Inc. in respect of the investment in financial instruments. Investors should conduct further research before investing.

Ten U.S. home-builder stocks

RankCompanySymbolRecent Price (US$)P/EDebt/EquityROE (%)Mkt. Cap. (US$ Bil.) Performance YTD (%)Performance 12M (%)Div. Yield (%)
1D.R. Horton Inc.DHI-N44.8811.20.3917.817.
2PulteGroup Inc.PHM-N32.19.30.6621.
3Lennar Corp.LEN-N51.929.30.7012.816.534.1-0.020.31
4Toll Brothers Inc.TOL-N37.077.60.7415.85.414.3-1.881.19
5M.D.C. Holdings Inc.MDC-N32.819.80.7013.902.0027.706.273.45
6Meritage Homes Corp.MTH-N51.3410.10.7512.41.942.215.63n/a
7LGI Homes Inc.LGIH-Q72.0112.51.0024.51.654.6326.18n/a
8TRI Pointe Group Inc.TPH-N12.067.90.6911.31.7211-28.01n/a

Trading Central

Gary Christie is head of North American research at Trading Central.

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