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Is this the best construction stock to build your portfolio around?

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Stock picker demand for retirement property play McCarthy & Stone (LSE: MCS) picked up in Wednesday trade following the firm’s latest trading update. The construction firm was last 4% higher from Tuesday’s close and dealing at nine-week highs.

McCarthy & Stone announced in a reassuring release that it has experienced “normal trading conditions” during the 20 weeks to January 20. The business noted that sales are “running ahead of the prior year and have contributed a further £206m of revenue to the group’s forward order book.”

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Improved selling prices mean that reservations have risen 5% compared with the same point last year. But this wasn’t the only cause for cheer as McCarthy & Stone said that “new enquirers, sales leads and visitor numbers continue to run ahead of the prior year indicating good future demand for the group’s products.”

Perky Persimmon

But McCarthy & Stone isn’t the only construction play to have released positive trading news in recent weeks.

Persimmon (LSE: PSN), for one, advised at the turn of the New Year that revenues clocked in at £3.14bn, up 8% year-on-year. And the business saw sales volumes rise by 599 new homes last year, to 15,171.

And the housebuilder allayed fears of a sudden drop-off in customer demand, commenting that “buying a new-build home remains a compelling choice supported by competitive mortgage offers which continue to make a new home purchase very affordable.”

Persimmon noted that private sales rates rose 15% during July-October, with 7,933 completions booked during the period. This was also up from 7,238 completions in the first half.

Cheap as chips

So not surprisingly, the City believes both builders are in great shape to provide sterling shareholder returns.

At McCarthy & Stone, for the year to August 2017 the company is expected to record a 15% earnings rise. And a further 25% increase is chalked in for fiscal 2018.

These projections result in extremely-attractive P/E ratios of 10.9 times and 8.7 times respectively, while sub-1 PEG readouts — at 0.7 and 0.3 for this year and next — underline McCarthy & Stone’s exceptional value relative to its growth prospects.

And the firm’s brilliant bottom-line momentum also bodes well for future dividend payments. A 4.5p per share reward last year is expected to jump to 5p in 2017 and 6.2p next year, driving the yield to 2.9% and then to 3.6%.

And Persimmon also offers stock pickers plenty of bang for their buck.

The housebuilder is expected to enjoy earnings rises of 3% in 2017 and 4% in 2018, resulting in earnings multiples of just 9.5 times and 9.2 times. And anticipated dividends of 110p per share this year and 111.3p in 2018 yield a staggering 5.7% and 5.8% respectively.

I reckon the sunny sales momentum at Persimmon and McCarthy & Stone — allied with their ultra-attractive valuations — make both stocks terrific buys for savvy investors.

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Royston Wild has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

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