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Good housing news is bad for housing stocks

November 12, 2012: 11:49 AM ET

Things may be looking up for the housing market. But investors have already factored that in (and more) to the prices of homebuilder stocks.

The housing market has hit bottom. Problem is, investors already know that.

Two honebuilders reported decent, albeit not spectacular, results Monday morning. D.R. Horton (DHI) posted a profit that beat forecasts. But revenues missed estimates. Meanwhile, Beazer Homes (BZH) reported revenue that exceeded expectations. But its quarterly loss was higher than what analysts were predicting.

Both stocks fell on the news. Beazer got hit particularly hard though, plunging nearly 14% compared to a 3.5% drop for Horton. Traders on StockTwits had a lot of thoughts on why housing stocks were pulling back.

BrianSozzi: Fact: Beazer's cancellation rate was 410 bps higher than DR Horton's $BZH vs. $DHI

That is bad news, and it can help explain why Beazer's shares were being pummeled. Also, even though sales did top estimates, a loss is still a loss. Horton may have missed on earnings, but it is profitable.

Nonetheless, the whole housing sector was looking weak Monday. The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) was down about 1%, extending a slide from last week. It makes sense though. Even with the recent slump, this ETF is still sitting on a nearly 50% year-to-date gain. Nearly all housing stocks have enjoyed a huge rebound in 2012 on the hopes that the worst was finally over for the market.

I did a video last week about how all housing stocks could be in for some short-term pain after the outlook from real estate listing site Zillow (Z) was not as strong as analysts were expecting.

Traders are definitely noticing how the sector is losing momentum. Shares of Horton, as well as rivals KB Home (KBH), Lennar (LEN), Toll Brothers (TOL) and PulteGroup (PHM), actually all opened higher Monday and were unable to hang onto those gains.

2011pls: $KBH, $LEN, $PHM, $DHI, $TOL, let's see the bounce two business days in a row, if they don't bounce strong, i will sell my last piece

Sirtuan: Housing stocks starting to look toppy $TOL $KBH $DHI $HOV

So the builder pullback should not be a huge surprise. But investors should put things in perspective though. It does look like the recovery in housing is for real.

davidpbaskin: Giant home builder DH Horton $DHI reports strong earnings and 49% YOY increase in backlog. US shows strong new household formation = demand.

Tape_Reader: $DHI strong demand into November "with our highest year-end backlog since fiscal 2007."

That's good news for consumers. But for investors, the builder story is running out of steam. Housing stocks need to do more than just confirm that the market is improving. They have to keep beating expectations to justify the huge run-ups they've all had this year.

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Paul Lamonica
Paul R. La Monica
Assistant Managing Editor, CNNMoney

Paul R. La Monica is an assistant managing editor at CNNMoney. He is the author of the site's daily column, The Buzz, and also tweets throughout the day about the markets and economy @LaMonicaBuzz. La Monica also oversees the site's economic, markets and technology coverage.

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