Persimmon and Bovis Homes are the housebuilders best placed to bounce back from the slump in the housing market, City analysts claim.
The prediction follows January trading updates from six big housebuilders that caused their share prices to plummet (see table). The different levels of recovery up to Monday, when there was a wider stock market downturn, suggest some will fare better than others over the next few months. Persimmon’s proven track record and Bovis Homes’ healthy landbank were cited as key reasons.
Andy Brown at stockbroker Panmure Gordon said: “Persimmon’s big liquidity and track record mean it’s likely to deliver. Its statement didn’t read well but it was realistic and the market will give it the benefit of the doubt.”
Kevin Cammack at Kaupthing Bank said Bovis Homes’ strategic landbank would give it longer-term resilience. He said: “They are protected by their landbank because in this climate nobody can predict earnings.”
Bellway also performed well, which one observer put down to “tight management” and a wide UK spread that protected against vulnerability in any particular region. The fact it operates at the lower end of the market was also cited as a positive in a volatile market.
Cammack warned that Taylor Wimpey’s exposure in the US could be a problem, given the weak state of the country’s housing market.
Other analysts said Barratt could face problems because of its £2.2bn purchase of Wilson Bowden last May, which left it more exposed to the vulnerable top-end of the market.
Cammack said an uplift of 20% in 2008 spring sales over autumn 2007 would be encouraging news for the sector. The normal rise is between 20% and 30%.
He said: “Everything coming out of the housebuilders right now has got the spring rider on it. A 20% rise would indicate a 5% drop in like-for-like sales compared to 2007.” Brown said the performance of Taylor Wimpey and Barratt were also tied into US interest rates, which were cut on Tuesday by 75 points.