For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – June 24, 2021 – Zacks Equity Research Shares of PulteGroup, Inc. PHM as the Bull of the Day, Panasonic Corporation PCRFY as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis on Caterpillar Inc. CAT and Rio Tinto Group RIO.
Here is a synopsis of all four stocks:
Bull of the Day:
The pandemic and the subsequent low interest rates brought about a banner year for the U.S. housing market. Though sales have slowed, prices have continued to climb in 2021 and homebuilders are poised to grow amid a nationwide housing shortage.
PulteGroup is one of the largest homebuilders in the U.S., with operations in over 40 major markets across 23 states. The company operates under multiple brands, including its namesake Pulte, as well Centex, Del Webb, John Wieland Home, and others.
PulteGroup builds homes in popular areas from California and Texas to the Midwest, Florida, and beyond. The list of major markets includes Austin, Dallas, San Diego, Chicago, Miami, and many others. PHM also reaches a diversified set of customers, which helps it grow and gain exposure to different buying trends.
The Atlanta-based company claims that 29% of its homes are sold to first-time buyers, while 45% come from “move up” clients and 26% from “active adults.” And PHM has exposure to various levels of the housing market, from the under $250K group to $500K and above. In 2019, 30% of its homes closed between $300K to $399K, with another 45% coming at $400K or higher.
Growth & Outlook
PulteGroup has posted sales growth for nearly a decade straight, including some impressive years of top-line expansion. The company’s revenue climbed 8% in 2020 and it surged 19% in the first quarter of 2021. The recent pop was driven by a 12% increase in the number of homes closed, alongside a 4% increase in average sales price that saw it hit $430K, which reflected “price increases realized across all buyer groups.”
More importantly, PHM ended the first quarter with a backlog of 18,966 homes valued at $8.8 billion, up 50%. Meanwhile, its adjusted earnings surged 60%. And its CEO Ryan Marshall nicely summarized the broader industry trends that provide solid tailwinds for PulteGroup and other homemakers, on top of “favorable demographics, low interest rates and improving consumer.”
“The need for almost 4 million additional homes as recently estimated by Freddie Mac to meet buyer demand, and expectations for an acceleration in economic growth as the pandemic continues to recede, keep us optimistic about future housing conditions and the opportunity to drive additional gains in our business results.”
The booming housing market pushed U.S. home sales to their highest levels since 2006 in 2020. And a tight market saw U.S. existing-home prices hit a record high in May. Like PulteGroup’s chief executive pointed out, there is a huge need for more homes, with one recent report stating the country was 5.5 million units below necessary levels.
With this positive backdrop in mind, Zacks estimates call for PHM’s fiscal 2021 revenue to soar 35% to reach $14.9 billion and mark its strongest top-line growth in roughly 20 years. The company is then expected to follow up this growth with another 9% sales expansion in 2022.
At the bottom-end, its adjusted earnings are expected to climb by 48% and 11%, respectively over this stretch. PulteGroup also boasts a long history of quarterly earnings beats and its consensus bottom-line estimates have surged since its last report, with its FY21 figure up 26% and FY22 30% higher.
In a sign of strength, PulteGroup in December raised its quarterly dividend by 17%, with its current 1% yield roughly matching peers such as Lennar and Toll Brothers. And PHM executives last quarter announced the firm increased its share repurchase authorization by $1 billion.
PHM shares have crushed their industry over the last five years, up 210% vs. 135%. This includes a 60% jump in the last 12 months, which once again helped it outpace the Home Builders space and the benchmark S&P 500 index’s 45%. The stock has pulled back since hitting records in May, closing regular hours Wednesday nearly 15% below its highs at $53.49 a share.
PulteGroup is currently trading under its 50-day moving average, but well above its 200-day. The stock also sits well below neutral RSI levels (50) at 40. Plus, PHM is trading at an 18% discount to its own year-long median and nearly 50% under its highs at 6.7X forward earnings, marking solid value compared to its industry’s 7.9X average. All of this provides PulteGroup stock plenty of possible runway.
PulteGroup’s positive earnings revisions help it land a Ranks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) at the moment. On top of that, seven of the 11 brokerage recommendations Zacks has for PHM come in at “Strong Buys,” with one more “Buy” and none below a “Hold.”
In the end, millennials continue to reach their prime homebuying years and a shortage of homes could help PulteGroup and other homebuilders continue to grow. And let’s remember that mortgage rates are still extremely low despite climbing off their early 2021 bottoms. Plus, PHM’s Building Products-Home Builders industry sits in the top 8% of our over 250 Zacks industries.
Bear of the Day:
Panasonic is a historic technology firm that has seen its earnings revisions trend in the wrong direction recently. The stock has also fallen around 20% since February and PCRFY shares have yet to mount a real recovery, while lagging its industry over the past several years.
The Short Story
Panasonic is a tech titan that operates multiple units: appliances, life solutions, connected solutions, automotive, and industrial solutions. The company is currently working to expand its battery business far beyond Tesla as the electric vehicle age begins.
Panasonic also made a splash when it announced in April its plans to buy U.S. supply-chain software provider Blue Yonder Holding Inc. The deal is valued at roughly $7 billion and is projected to help bolster the firm’s software business in the SaaS age. Wall Street has, however, not reacted too kindly to the deal, with PCRFY down around 8% since the end of April.
The recent pullback is part of a larger downturn since February for a stock that has struggled to keep up with the booming tech sector. The nearby chart shows PCRFY shares are up just roughly 20% in the last five years. When it comes to the technical side, Panasonic is currently trading below both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages. The rough stretch in 2021 comes as the Nasdaq has rebounded to reach new highs.
Panasonic has seen some downward earnings revisions activity recently to help it land a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) at the moment. And its Audio Video Production industry sits in the bottom third of over 250 Zacks industries.
All that said, investors might want to hold off on Panasonic stock until it flashes signs of a possible comeback before considering the consumer electronics standout.
Caterpillar (CAT) Designing Zero-Emission Machines
Caterpillar recently entered into a collaboration agreement with Nouveau Monde Graphite Inc. to develop, test and produce zero-emission machines for the latter’s Matawinie graphite mine. Caterpillar expects to become the exclusive supplier of an all-electric mining fleet for the mine by 2028.
The Matawinie project, which will provide high-purity graphite concentrate for electric vehicles, is planned to be the first open pit operation in the world that will exclusively use electric equipment. This is an important milestone in the mining industry as it can be used as a launch pad for other miners focused on cutting down their emissions utilizing Caterpillar’s cutting-edge technologies.
Fully owned by Nouveau Monde, Matawinie is a high-purity flake graphite deposit located in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, 150 km north of Montréal, Québec. The project is estimated to contain probable reserves of 59.8 Mt (million tons) grading 4.35% graphitic carbon.
The mine is expected to produce 100,000 tons of graphite concentrate annually for the battery electric vehicle and energy storage markets. Also, the combination of high-quality infrastructure, skilled workforce and a dynamic regional business ecosystem make it a worthy investment. Nouveau Monde is targeting commercial operations by 2023.
Dedicated to stringent sustainable development standards, Nouveau Monde is committed to having both its equipment used for mining operations and its ore concentration and processing activities become fully electric within the first five years of production. This operating model, which is the world’s first for an open-pit mine, represents a potential reduction of over 300,000 tons of CO2 emissions over the mine’s lifespan. Notably, Caterpillar has been helping its customers decrease their carbon footprints through machinery and power solutions that minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
This news comes on the heels of Rio Tinto announcement that it will deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water truck in partnership with Caterpillar at its $2.6 billion Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. Water spraying is a vital part of mining operations and this new technology will enhance productivity by enabling digital tracking of water consumption, while cutting down water wastage. Rio Tinto intends to make Gudai-Darri one of the world’s most technologically advanced mines.
Cutting down the mining sector’s carbon emissions is the need of the hour. Day by day, more and more mining companies are exploring options to electrify their mines. The switch from diesel to electricity will also cut costs and boost their license to operate.
Electrified mines will require less maintenance and human intervention. The use of automation and the Internet of Things (IoT) will increase as drones, autonomous vehicles and remote-controlled operational systems are rolled out more widely across mining operations.
At Bernstein 37th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference earlier this month, Caterpillar’s CEO Jim Umpleby pointed toward a “long healthy cycle” in mining and strong commodity prices. Umpleby also highlighted that the energy transition has immense potential for Caterpillar in the long haul.
The intensifying global focus on shifting from fossil fuels to zero emissions will require huge amounts of commodities. This will lead to higher demand for mining equipment. Caterpillar given its focus on energy and emissions reduction will have a competitive edge.
Per a Research and Markets report, the global market for mining equipment, which was estimated at $119 billion in 2020, is projected to witness a CAGR of 6.1% and hit $179.8 billion by 2027. Metal mining is projected to record a 7.6% CAGR and attain $83.5 billion by 2027.
Shares of Caterpillar have surged 68.8% over the past year compared with the industry’s rally of 45.1%.
Zacks Rank & Other Stocks to Consider
The company currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
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