Home Builders Hedge Their Bets on Housing Recovery

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Several of the nation’s largest public home builders reported earnings this week, and I was struck by the way their CEOs spoke of the current state of housing, especially in what I’m sure were some very carefully crafted written earnings statements.

From D.R. Horton’s [ DHI 12.44  +0.34 (+2.81%) ] Donald Horton:

“Market conditions in the homebuilding industry are still challenging, with high foreclosures, significant existing home inventory, high unemployment, tight mortgage lending standards and weak consumer confidence. However, housing affordability remains near record highs, interest rates are favorable and new home inventory is still very low,” Horton said. “We continue to focus on providing affordable homes for the first-time buyer while having product available for move-up buyers, further adjusting our cost structure relative to our current sales pace.”

Translation: We’re still in the dumps, but we’re lowering prices, so come on and buy.

Pulte’s [ PHM 8.13  -0.11 (-1.34%) ] Richard Dugas: “Over the near term, we expect the industry will continue to face low levels of demand and that overall operating conditions will remain highly competitive.” Dugas then said he expects a return to profitability in the “back half of the year.”

Translation: Still bad, but it has to get better, right?

Ryland’s CEO didn’t weigh in on the earnings release.

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