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Home Building Disappoints Last Month; J&J and P&G Beat on Earnings

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

A setback in new home development and quarterly earnings reports greets investors this morning, though even the disappointing news here has not thrown pre-market indexes off a buoyant growth trajectory. At this hour, the Dow is up +140 points, the S&P 500 is +20 and the Nasdaq is +50 points. These are off the early morning highs somewhat, but the launch of a Bitcoin ETF today looks to have captured the lion’s share of attention thus far.

One of the most important components of the Great Reopening of the past 6+ months has been the housing market, though it has been anything but steady. The topsy-turvy course continues through the month of September, where Housing Starts have reported seasonally adjusted, annualized units of 1.555 million — notably off the expected 1.61 million, and -1.6% from a +0.3% expected for the month. The August headline number was revised down to 1.58 million.

Building Permits — a proxy for future starts — performed even worse: 1.589 million from an expected 1.69 million, -7.7% from last month’s 1.72 million and -3.4% from estimates. This represents a 12-month low, taking out the 1.59 million reported in June of this year and October 2020. It is also a far cry from the 12-month high in new permits: January’s 1.88 million.

We’ve seen housing prices go up nearly 20% this year, forcing some would-be buyers out of the market, at least temporarily. There have also been much-covered shortages, both in housing materials on supply-chain bottlenecks and workforce demands for higher wages and improved conditions. Further, Hurricane Ida ripped through the South and Northeast over this period, helping push monthly levels -6% and -27% in each, respectively.

If there is a silver lining here — and, to be clear, a million and a half new homes built in a month is far from a tragedy — it’s that most of the miss from estimates came from the less-valuable multi-family housing side. This comes as no surprise to followers of these metrics; multi-family home development in August was much higher than expected, so this lower number brings a bit of equilibrium here. The more-valuable single-family home creation was in-line with August numbers.

Two commercial drug and household products companies — Johnson & Johnson JNJ and Procter & Gamble PG — reported quarterly earnings before today’s opening bell. Results were good — mostly…

Johnson & Johnson reported Q3 earnings of $2.60 per share, beating expectations for $2.37 per share and a notable improvement from the year-ago quarter’s $2.20 per share. This amounts to a +9.7% earnings beat, which is in-line with the average beat of the previous four quarters (J&J never, ever posts an earnings miss — going back more than 10 years). However, revenues of $23.34 billion missed the Zacks consensus by -1.2%, and was below the year-ago $26.08 billion. For more on JNJ’s earnings, click here.

For Procter & Gamble, the Zacks Rank #2 (Buy)-rated company outperformed on both top and bottom lines in the company’s fiscal Q1 — $1.61 per share on earnings vs. $1.59 expected; $20.34 billion in sales beat the Zacks consensus by +2.5% — but no raise to guidance has caused a bit of a sell-off in the shares on the news, -2.2%. Neither P&G nor J&J are keeping pace with the S&P 500 year-to-date, so it will be interesting to see if at some point P&G becomes an attractive value play. For more on PG’s earnings click here.

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