Why are the big FTSE housebuilders so cheap?
I sometimes wonder if I'm the only person who thinks the UK's housebuilders are a steal right now, as I look over their trading updates, their forecasts and valuations, and see shares that seem just too cheap to me.
Well, I know I'm not actually alone, as only last week, fellow Fool writer David Holding was talking bullishly about them, and he went for an interesting one in his pick of the sector.
And this week, Motley Fool Share Advisor senior analyst Nate Weisshaar has been talking positively about three in the sector that he thinks are looking good.
Why are the markets not snapping them up? Well, some sectors are cyclical, and many institutional investors with eyes only for year-end results seem to be avoiding such uncertainties right now -- which leaves bargains for long-term Fools.
If you want to learn about some other sectors that are being snubbed by the markets and are looking like decent long-term investments right now, I'd recommend you have a look at the Motley Fool's special report "Top Sectors Of 2012", while it's still free. But let's look more closely at the builders...
Last week we had an interim update from Persimmon (LSE: PSN), which reported a 6% rise in the number of homes sold, and an average selling price that rose by 7% to approximately £171,400. That provided a 13% boost to turnover for the first half, to £805 million.
Add to that Persimmon's publishing of its dividend targets for the next nine years -- giving a 12% yield for 2013 -- and it's surely a bargain, isn't it? I thought it was, as I chose it for the Fool's Beginners' Portfolio last week,
On Monday it was the turn of Bovis Homes Group (LSE: BVS) to release a half-time update, and it has sold 944 homes, which is an increase of 18%, with average sales prices only slightly up at £164,400.
Margins are looking good, and the firm expects the half year to bring in a 10% operating margin, against 7.5% for the first half of last year.
Then today, we had full-year updates from two others, with Barratt Developments (LSE: BDEV) reporting a 14% rise in turnover to £2.3bn after completing 12,637 units, with pre-tax profits (excluding exceptionals) expected to grow by a massive 158% to around £110m. As of the end of June, forward private sales were up 34.6% to £378.4m.
And a full-year update from Galliford Try (LSE: GFRD) cast a very positive light on the firm's three year housebuilding plan. Housing completions rose by 40% to 3,039 units (from 2,170 last year), with an average selling price up by 10%, from £227,000 to £250,000. The firm also enlarged its landbank to 10,500 plots, with a greater concentration in the more profitable south-east.
Don't miss out
With results like these coming in, and considering the landbanks that all these builders built up while it was dirt cheap at the depths of the recession, I really can't see these shares going anywhere but strongly upwards over the next five years.
Finally, another good way to find sectors like this which are offering good value is to have a look where the country's best investors are putting their money. That's why we have put together our free "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" report, which looks at the sectors chosen by ace investor Neil Woodford.
Are you looking to profit as a long-term investor? "10 Steps To Making A Million In The Market" is the latest Motley Fool guide to help Britain invest. Better. We urge you to read the report today -- while it's still free and available.
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> Alan does not own any shares mentioned in this article.