SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Esmeralda Swartz, Kevin Jackson

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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: D.R. Horton, Toll Brothers, Ryland Group, Lennar and PulteGroup

CHICAGO, Jan. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI-Free Report), Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL-Free Report), Ryland Group, Inc. (NYSE:RYL-Free Report), Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN-Free Report) and PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM-Free Report).

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Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Friday's Analyst Blog:

Builder Index Down, View Stays Positive

Homebuilders' confidence slipped slightly in Jan 2014 after an unexpected jump last month.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) /Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI), known as the homebuilder sentiment index, declined a point to 56 in January from a revised reading of 57 in Dec 2013. All the three index components — current sales conditions, future sales expectations and buyer traffic — declined in the month.

NAHB Chairman, however, said that many homebuilding markets continued to improve. Notably, according to the Chairman builder confidence "has essentially leveled out and is holding at a solid level" primarily on the December jump in the index.

Albeit interest rates are rising, these are still below historical levels and housing is still affordable. In addition, accelerating job growth and increasing consumer confidence are also boosting demand for new homes. Rising home prices, historically low interest rates and pent up demand will continue to drive the hosing momentum, according to NAHB Chief Economist, David Crowe.

Moreover, any reading on this index above 50 indicates that an increasing number of builders view the market conditions as good than poor.

Thus, despite the one point slip, most homebuilders like D.R. Horton, Inc. (NYSE:DHI-Free Report), Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL-Free Report), The Ryland Group, Inc. (NYSE:RYL-Free Report), Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN-Free Report), PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM-Free Report), among others, rose on an overall positive outlook for the sector.

The housing momentum seen in 2012 and in the first half of 2013 slowed down in the past 3–4 months due to the recent spike in mortgage rates, rising home prices, tight credit availability and the political uncertainty in Washington. However, most homebuilders believe that this is temporary and are confident of demand picking up in the forthcoming quarters. These builders expect buyers to adjust to rising prices and interest rates and return to the market.

Also, Federal Reserve's promise to keep interest rates low for some time despite tapering its $85 billion stimulus plan by $10 billion from Jan 2014 removes a major overhang for the homebuilders.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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