This column was originally published on RealMoney on March 27 at 7:31 a.m. EDT. It's being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers. For more information about subscribing to RealMoney, please click here.
As long as the "current environment of strong employment, low interest rates and a healthy economy continues,"
"will meet or exceed" its 2006 earnings.
That statement, made by Lennar CEO Stuart Miller, moved up the whole group when he said it in January 2007. Frankly, at the time, the statement seemed patently absurd. Most people simply expected nothing much for the homebuilders but down year-over-year earnings, and Miller seemed to think that the world was wrong.
Today, three months later, he
goes back on that statement. What's interesting is that the three criteria are pretty much intact.
So what's really happening? I think we are simply in a reduced earnings period for everything housing. Not losses. Just not a lot of profitability where there was too much profitability in previous years.
I think the same thing may be true for those in the mortgage business. The homebuilders and the mortgage companies printed money for many years. I think that's over. Margins are coming down. Fewer homes are going to be sold. That means down earnings year over year, which means these stocks must all be sold because no mutual fund wants to have down earnings.
Lennar, in particular, got this market wrong, expanding rapidly into the worst markets and continuing to build spec houses despite waning demand. Just a bad idea.
And now Lennar will have to pay even more than it has already, given that it is down from when it made that silly statement in January.
I am eagerly awaiting our game and am cooking up a lot of neat stuff with James Altucher over at
Stockpickr, where the new portfolios just keep being added. It is ironic that when
started something like this not that long ago, the press loved it. Maybe one day, the press will love Stockpickr, too. You never know.
TheStreet.com holds a minority ownership interest in Stockpickr LLC and serves on its Member Committee. Jim Cramer is a director, co-founder and stockholder of TheStreet.com.
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