What Century Communities Said To Reignite the Home Builder Trade

“We are confident our positive trajectory will continue as not only did our fourth quarter net new contracts increase 45% over last year but we have seen our sales pace accelerate, with December up 54% and January increasing 77%. We are solidly positioned with a backlog of 3,439 sold homes, an increase of 66%, along with nearly 50,000 owned and controlled lots which will support further increases in deliveries, contracts and community count…”

Century Communities Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2020 Results, February 4, 2021

With the above statement, mid-size home builder Century Communities (CCS) declared that the business of building and selling homes was strong as ever and getting even stronger. Moreover, the company has sufficient capacity to deliver the homes needed to satisfy the robust market demand. This confidence and bullish outlook earned CCS a 19.5% post-earnings gain and a breakout to an all-time high.

Century Communities (CCS) trades at all-time highs and is up 503% from its pandemic lows.

The news also helped reignite the home builder trade with fresh momentum across home builders. The iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) gained 2.8% and is still printing all-time highs.

The iShares U.S. Home Construction ETF (ITB) trades at all-time highs and is up 169% from its pandemic lows.

Century Communities’s results were truly impressive. The following table presents key year-over-year highlights from the earnings presentation:

Performance MeasureQ42020
Total revenues25%25%
Home deliveries14%18%
New contracts45%38%
Gross Margin200bps60bps
Pre-Tax Income125%104%
Land (lot count)28%7%

Century Communities set company records with each performance measure as it continues to focus on the affordable, entry-level market (about 80% of deliveries). Moreover, the company recorded its 18th straight year of profitability. Improved pricing power “across markets” drove gross margin gains in the fourth quarter and January. Sequential margin gains are on an 8-month streak. However, Century Communities does not anticipate ASPs returning to 2019 levels. Year-over-year order growth in December increased 54% and January beat that growth with 77%.


Forward-looking guidance carried over the strength from 2020 and reflects expectations for a “favorable” Spring selling season and rest-of-year. From the Seeking Alpha transcript of the earnings conference call:

  • Deliveries for 2021 from 10,500 to 11,500 homes or 11% to 22% year-over-year growth.
  • Home sales revenue for 2021 from $3.3B to $3.8B or 10% to 27% year-over-year growth.
  • Gross margins 20-21% in Q1 and Q2 which brackets 2020’s gross margin of 20.8%.

Risks and Challenges

The cost side of the business represents a key risk and challenge. Century Communities noted elongated cycle times as well as increased materials and labor costs. The company is experiencing production challenges “like all the other home builders do.” So far, CCS is managing to offset these pressures with price appreciation and operational efficiencies.

The Trade

Because the stock market in general is well-extended to the upside, entry points in CCS must be managed carefully. The stock is also well-extended to the upside thanks to market excitement over the earnings report. Per the strategy from the seasonal trade on home builders, buying the dips for the next month or two should be well-supported by the positive momentum associated with anticipation for the Spring selling season. Yet, CCS is not likely to dip much without a stock market correction or pullback. A covered call position is one way to achieve a lower cost entry albeit with a tight cap on short-term gains.

At the time of writing, the March $65 call is selling for about $3.15. So with the stock trading at $62.50, the position offers protection back to the high point of the first post-earnings trading day. Gains are capped at $68.15 or 9.0%, a respectable gain over 5 weeks. The ideal scenario consists of the stock drifting close to but not above $65 by expiration day at which point a fresh decision can be made on selling another covered call or ending the trade altogether.

Be careful out there!

Full disclosure: no positions

2 thoughts on “What Century Communities Said To Reignite the Home Builder Trade

  1. CCS was the most heavily shorted home builder, with short interest > 10% of the float. That was the primary reason this stock realized such impressive upside. Other home builders have been delivering equally impressive results, and delivering equal confidence of their outlooks in their conference calls too … but none reacted nearly as favorably. Whoever shorted CCS got caught, and are being forced to pay dearly to cover. Give it a few weeks, the stock will come back in after the shorts are made to pay up to close out their positions. You’ll have an opportunity to get some CCS in the low to mid 50s within the next month or two. There are winners all around in this industry …. $MHO has the more impressive mgt team. $TMHC has the greatest room for margin improvement, coming off a number of recent acquisitions that are just now realizing synergies. $BZH is often overlooked. $GRBK is very promising too, but it has another month or so of overhang from the green shoe on its recent secondary. Also, GRBK’s upcoming earnings report was preannounced and disappointing. But, it has excellent land positions in very hot mkts and will deliver in 2021. Overall, it’s best to stick with the 4,5,6 smallest in the industry. But, you can throw a dart in this industry now, and always hit a winner. Of interest too are the raw material suppliers to housing … roofing $BCEN, Windows and Door $JELD $DOOR and lumber related $BCC $WFG $LPX. Mortgage lenders too. My favorite there is $FBC. In the last big housing cycle it went up 14x. Thus far this cycle it’s up only 2.5x, from $17 to $45, so more room to run. $UWMC will also be a massive winner in mortgage lending. It was recently brought public via a SPAC. The stock is cratering now because insiders are stupidly rushing the exit after the black out window opened post their first public earnings release. The insiders there are naive and reckless. But, once their selling is done, the stock will bounce 20 to 30% quickly. At $9, it yields over 4%, and sells at a 7x PE to 2021 estimates, which will wind up being way low for what these guys will put on the bottom line. The company is the second largest mortgage lender, and has a technology edge on its competitors. It’s only weakness is its CEO … the guy is a born salesman … but he runs his mouth too much to be an effective face to the investment community. And, his understanding of finance leaves a lot to be desired. Still, the stock will do well. This housing cycle started in March 2020. It will run another couple years before petering out around 2023 to 2025. And this cycle will be stronger than the one from 2000 to 2007. All the stocks in the industry will likely go up 3 – 5x more from here before topping. Then, there will be great shorting opportunities when the cycle reverses.

  2. You should be writing your own blog! Thanks for all this great info. Funny – I wrote in another piece that I am now in the habit of checking short interest when I am surprised by a surge in a stock. I didn’t even check CCS! 10.2% of float is high but not nosebleed high like a lot of others that have been squeezed.

    Again, thanks for taking the time. I will be referring back to your comment in the coming months and more!

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