WCI Buyer Hoax? [Housing Tracker]

Includes: CTX, HOV, LEN, PHM, WCIM
by: Judy Weil

Homebuilder Stocks 

Editors Note: Please see important update to this article on WCI communities in our comments section.

WCI Communities Inc. May Be Sold In $220 Million Deal. “Press Release: WCI Communities Inc. (WCI), could be sold to another company in a deal worth $220 million. Jerry Starkey announced that he received a bid Saturday for the Bonita Springs-based company, according to WCI. The offer came days after the company dissolved its special committee to review alternative proposals from affiliates. The company’s board of directors is scheduled to meet this week to review the offer. WCI did not identify the bidder. Stock prices would reach $5.25 each under the deal. WCI’s stock closed at $1.37 per share Friday.” (News Press, July 20th)

New Home Builders Report Sales Are Up. Florida: In the last year, Lakewood Ranch has seen nearly 40 homes priced at $1 million or above sell and the number of listings fall significantly at all price levels. Both new and resale homes are moving in the community... Broadway Promenade, a mixed-use development in downtown Sarasota that includes 186 condos, has seen 18 sales in the past six months. The condos range from $200,000-$600,000 and offer views of Sarasota Bay… Centex Homes (CTX) is also seeing that a lot more visitors to its Reserve at Crossing Creek model center are ready to become buyers. Since Nov. 1, 2007, nearly 70 people have purchased homes.”  (Bradenton Herald, July 20th)

Pulte Homes Cutting Jobs In Georgia. Atlanta, Georgia: “One of the state's top home builders is cutting 11% of its Georgia staff. The Georgia division of Pulte Homes (NYSE:PHM) tells 11 Alive the job cuts are across all parts of the company except sales. Company leaders say workers will be given a chance to apply for other positions within the national organization.”  (11 Alive, July 19th)

Article Off BaseCalifornia: "Vallejo Chamber of Commerce: During the past 10 years, Mare Island has experienced substantial growth, far outpacing similar military bases closed during the same time. The majority of this growth is a result of master developer Lennar Mare Island's (NYSE:LEN) efforts and the company's more than $110 million investment in Island infrastructure. Since 1997, the number of Mare Island businesses has increased from 20 to 90, occupied commercial square footage has increased from approximately 800,000-sf to 2.5 million-sf and the number of permanent jobs on Mare Island has increased from just over 800 in 1998 to more than 2,000 today.”  (Times Herald Online letters, July 19th)

As New Home Market Swoons, Local Leader Hampton Pitts Leaves Centex. North Carolina: “Hampton Pitts, the Raleigh division president for national home builder Centex Homes, has left the company in the wake of a worsening housing slump that's crippled new home sales. Centex Homes ranked among the Triangle's two largest residential builders in 2007, according to Triangle Business Journal research, with 928 homes completed in 2007. Centex's total volume of home contracts topped $222 million in 2007. But sales in 2008 are expected to be slower for almost every homebuilder in the industry as potential home buyers face stricter standards from lenders in the wake of a mortgage meltdown.” (Triangle Business Journal, July 18th)

Windward Homes Changes Name To K. Hovnanian Homes. Florida: Windward Homes will have a new name to help centralize the brand of the company that acquired them five years ago. The Tampa residential homebuilding company will now be known as K. Hovnanian Homes after Hovnanian Enterprises (NYSE:HOV)… The company builds in 10 communities in Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties of homes that range between $150,000-$400,000+… Tampa Bay Business Journal's Book of Lists: Windward Homes reported 2006 revenue of $242 million in the Tampa Bay area, making it the third ranked homebuilder in the region behind Lennar Tampa and Standard Pacific Homes.”  (Tampa Bay Business Journal, July 18th)

Landsource Comes to Terms with Creditors.  “LandSource Communities' creditors and debtors reached a compromise Friday, July 18, that should allow the company to refinance its debt and provide operating capital while it restructures in bankruptcy… The debtors-in-possession lenders agreed to extend the company's interim financing until then, said LandSource's spokesperson. The proposed finance agreement is essentially the same as that initially proposed, said LandSource's attorney... However, the revised loan will leave some of the company's assets unencumbered by the loan and theoretically available for unsecured creditors.” (Big Builder News, July 18th)

Judge Upends Landsource Finance Plan. “When Lennar and LNR sold the majority of their interest in LandSource to a partnership formed by MacFarlane Partners, CalPERS, and Weyerhaeuser Real Estate in February 2007, the company was appraised at $2.6 billion. By December, that value had plummeted to $1.8 billion, triggering violations of the company's loan covenants… The financing is non-recourse to Lennar and LNR, which each retained a 16% interest in the venture.”  (Big Builder Online, July 17th)

Pulte Homes Collecting Donations For St. Matthew’s. Florida: “Pulte Homes will hold a clothing drive to benefit St. Matthew’s House, a nonprofit organization providing support and services to the homeless of Collier County. Through Friday, Aug. 8, donations will be accepted during regular sales center hours at all Southwest Florida Pulte Homes communities’ sales centers. This includes Pulte Homes, DiVosta Homes and Del Webb communities.” (Naples News, July 17th)

Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. F1Q09 (Qtr End 06/27/08) Earnings Call Transcript. “John Diffendal – BB&T Capital Markets: “You mentioned the troubled states of California, Arizona, and Florida… It seemed like we were seeing a little better action out of Florida relative to the other two… Larry Keener – Chairman, President, CEO: Sure, kind of in a microcosm, we saw business improving just as you said, albeit from very low levels, some in the spring. But in the last couple of months it has weakened again. The difference there between what our independents are doing and what our company stores are doing is pretty dramatic. Our company stores continue to make money down there and I know that’s probably not something a lot of our independents can say right now.” (Seeking Alpha, July 16th)


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