William Lyon Homes posted a lot of strong numbers in its third quarter—a 114% increase in net income available to common stockholders; a 49% increase in orders; and a 33% increase in deliveries.
But analysts were focused on the $0.31. That was the builder’s earnings per share in the quarter. It was below estimates, which were generally in the $0.36 to $0.38 range. It’s an issue for a number of builders this quarter.
“We view this result as similar to most other builders that have reported so far this earnings season, and hence, believe that the stock has likely anticipated this result to a degree,” says J.P. Morgan’s Michael Rehaut.
Lyon missed on some other Rehaut projections, as well. Home building revenue rose 25%, which was less than the 46% estimate, and closings rose 33%, which was below the 53% estimate.
“Additionally, gross margins of 18.0% were slightly below our 18.3% estimate with backlog conversion below the company’s expectations due to the challenging labor market,” Rehaut wrote. “Overall, we continue to rate WLH Overweight, as we believe its valuation does not properly reflect our outlook for material earnings growth over the next two to three years, supported by WLH’s long land positions and attractive geographic exposures.”
Lyon’s strong order growth, driven by growth in community count, did meet estimates, with Arizona and Nevada leading the charge with 164% and 57% respectively. With the Polygon Northwest Co. acquisition last year fueling growth, Washington and Oregon grew by 133%, while Colorado and California saw orders fall 16% and 13%,
While some key items may have come in below estimates, the third quarter still showed strong growth for the California-based builder.
“We delivered another quarter of year-over-year improvement in our key operational metrics, while achieving our objective of growing our community count, which averaged 73 for the quarter, up 49% from the third quarter of 2014, and stood at 77 at quarter end,” said Matthew R. Zaist, Co-Chief Executive Officer and President. “Due to a number of market factors, our backlog conversion rate for the third quarter was below our expectations, and we are focused on improving upon that over the balance of the year in the face of a challenging labor market. Our backlog stood at 1,032 homes with a corresponding value of $537.1 million as of September 30th, providing an opportunity to achieve meaningful revenue and earnings growth as we focus on converting our backlog into deliveries during the fourth quarter.”