Goldman's Conviction on Pulte Cost You 40%

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- When Goldman Sachs ( GS) added homebuilder PulteGroup ( PHM) to its conviction buy list in March, the investment bank touted the stock as having return potential of 40%. Instead, investors are down 40% on the investment in less than six months.

Goldman removed Pulte from its conviction buy list Tuesday as the bank recalibrated its housing forecasts due to weak job growth and volatile financial markets. Goldman analysts still rate Pulte buy as the company is in the early stages of a turnaround, but they argue that there is an increased likelihood of a goodwill impairment and limited catalysts.

That view is quite a turnaround from Goldman's view in March, when it called Pulte the "only builder priced right for the long term." Goldman analysts gave Pulte a six-month price target of $10, saying the stock traded at a 40% discount to some peers on key metrics.

Fast-forward to now, and the stock is down to $4.38 as of Friday's close. That's nearly a 40% drop from where the stock closed on March 22, the day before Goldman analysts added the stock to the firm's conviction buy list. Shares are down another 7.3% to $4.06 at the start of trading Tuesday.

If the 40% drop in Pulte wasn't enough to dissuade Goldman analysts, they offer up a list of potential catalysts that would make them turn more negative. The reasons range from tighter lending standards to sub-par job growth to an increase in the likelihood of a recession.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that sound like the market environment we're in right now? Goldman Sachs economists have already pinned recession odds at 1 in 3, and August saw no net jobs added to the U.S. economy.

Goldman's conviction buy call on Pulte cost investors 40%. It remains to be seen what investors will lose with Pulte still rated buy by the bank.

-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.

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