A number of home builder stocks are falling after leading builder Toll Brothers (TOL) reported weaker than expected first quarter result, and U.S. housing starts came in below expectations. Toll Brothers reported first quarter earnings per share of just 3c, versus analysts' consensus estimate of 10c. Toll's average selling price fell slightly to $569,000 in its first quarter, down from $582,000 during the previous quarter. Moreover, the company invested over $330M in land deals during the first quarter. The company, however, added that it is gaining pricing power as the Spring selling season begins to kick off. On the data front, U.S. housing starts fell a greater than expected 8.5% to a 890K pace in January, although starts of single family units edged up 0.8%. Building permits increased 1.8% last month. In mid-morning trading, Toll Brothers sank 4.5% to $35.30, PulteGroup (PHM) slid 2.6% to $19.42, KB Home (KBH) fell 4% to $18.75, Hovnanian (HOV) gave back 2.95% to $5.59 and Beazer Homes (BZH) lost 2.3% to $16.77.
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