Stock did recover in the closing minutes of the session after being down nearly 7 percent. Investors remain jittery as they sort through Friday's disappointing earnings report - specifically a sharp decline in new orders (including a 28 percent drop on the West Coast). While some of the drop is due to factors specific to the L.A.-based home builder, the results came on the same day that the government reported lower-than-expected new home sales in February. From the WSJ:
The data highlighted a major difference between the market for new homes and the market for existing homes. The existing-home market, which showed signs of life this week when sales of previously owned homes reached their highest level since 2007, has been buoyed by investors who are buying distressed houses at bargain prices and renovating them for resale or rental. But the new-home market is still struggling to compete on price against foreclosures and short sales. "The new-home market is off way more from its peak than the existing-home market is, and the big difference is investors," said John Burns, a consultant based in Irvine, Calif., who tracks the national housing market.
Keep in mind, however, that KB has made a bunch of mistakes over the past two years by purchasing land in foreclosure-plagued markets.
In mid-2010, for example, KB bought land for nearly 700 new homes in Riverside and San Bernadino Counties in California, with a plan to finish development quickly and sell homes within six months. That plan, the order numbers show, hasn't worked out as the company hoped. According to Metrostudy, KB Home has 43 active communities selling homes in five California counties and 42 active communities in central Florida, both areas with huge foreclosure problems. "They invested a lot of capital in the Inland Empire last year, and that's a lousy market. It's still one of the worst markets in the country," Mr. Burns said. "They put their eggs in the wrong basket."