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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There was a "for sale" sign up across the homebuilding sector today, as investors exacted revenge on release of weak earnings from the nation's largest homebuilder, D.R. Horton ( DHI) on Friday morning. By mid-afternoon, D.R. Horton was down more than 15% for the day, the largest percentage loss on the NYSE. The $0.73 loss per share, far worse than expected by the Street -- and resulting from larger impairments than many had projected -- sent shares across the sector tumbling. Even worse, the freefall came just two weeks after preliminary fourth quarter and year-end results from luxury builder Toll Brothers ( TOL) had breathed a little life into the homebuilding industry. If there is a silver lining in the smack given to the sector by investors, it's this: even as the D.R. Horton numbers gave investors the jitters, most of the stocks did not drop as much as they had gained from the Toll Brothers spike two weeks prior to today. They may not be winners at week-end, but they were losers to a lesser degree thanks to the positive numbers from Toll Brother, which led a possibly unjustified rally.
"There was a massive positive reaction to the Toll earnings, and by and large the lift from Toll was bigger than today's sell-off," said Michael Widner, analyst at Stifel Nicolaus Equity Research. Since builders had become a place to put money in the past few weeks, they became a good beta trade, which was much in evidence today, Widner explained.