Nashville-area home prices ended January 6 percent higher than a year earlier and up 0.7 percent from December, according to research firm CoreLogic. Taking out distressed sales, prices rose 6.3 percent year over year. Those numbers are a nice bump from the sub-3 percent gains from last fall but they do lag the U.S. average by several points. It should be noted, though, that the national number is distorted by some gaudy numbers from several states in the West.
SEE ALSO: CoreLogic's national data release
BMO Capital Markets analyst Stephen Atkinson kicked off his week by lifting his price target for shares of Louisiana-Pacific to $25 from $24. While it's not a huge move, it has helped the stock (Ticker: LPX) stay ahead of a lackluster market today. As of 1:35 p.m., the shares were up 1 percent to $22.52, putting them within 3 percent of their highest levels since the first few weeks of 2007. They've climbed 170 percent in the past year as housing market optimism has risen.
The Nashville-area housing market finished 2012 in much better shape, say the researchers at CoreLogic. The foreclosure rate fell for the eighth straight month to its lowest level since August 2009, and the number of properties delinquent 90 days or more ticked down again. That statistic is now a full percentage point below its early 2011 level.
California-based RealtyTrac has released its January numbers for foreclosure properties and Tennessee looks, relatively speaking, fairly healthy.
The state recorded 1,542 foreclosure filings in January, down 26.8 percent from the January 2012 figure. On a somewhat sour note, the month saw 814 foreclosure starts, up 32.4 percent from January of the previous year. However, Tennessee had 728 foreclosure completions this past January, down 51 percent from the January 2012 total.
For January and nationwide, foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 150,864 U.S. properties, a decrease of 7 percent from the previous month and down 28 percent from the January 2012 mark. The report also shows one in every 869 U.S. housing units with a foreclosure filing during the month.
For RealtyTrac's national release, click here.
Time to empty the notebook on Louisiana-Pacific's fourth-quarter conference call from Friday. CEO Curt Stevens and CFO Sally Bailey entertained a number of questions related to their plans to ramp up production, so let's start there.
LP's big plant in Clark County, Ala., is on track for a second-quarter restart, and Stevens said he's been "a little bit positively surprised" by how well the hiring has gone. Of the people the company has brought on, about 30 percent have worked in Clark County in the past and 70 percent have worked for LP there or somewhere else. In British Columbia, fourth-shift hiring efforts at the Peace Valley factory — which LP is in the process of acquiring in full — are going well, although Stevens said LP leaders are regularly "pinged" by oil sands companies for technical staff.
There's been a good bit of industry chatter of late about how prices for LP's oriented strand board products will trend in 2013, so it was no surprise that Stevens was asked Friday when pricing "will come back to earth." Stevens gave one of the better not-so-fast comments we've heard in a while, saying that the manufacturing capacity he and his peers are adding isn't all going to come online quickly or at once. Restarting new plants takes a good bit of time and with the housing construction market expected to keep strengthening, that should "keep operating ratios at a pretty high level," he added.
But, asked analyst Steve Chercover at D.A. Davidson, OSB prices above $300 per 1,000 square feet shouldn't be considered the new normal, right?
"I can’t tell you the new normal," Stevens responded. "We set prices every day with our customers."
Investors have digested LP's Q4 report and the call went well, it appears. As of 11:50 a.m., they had upped the stock (Ticker: LPX) 3.7 percent to $21.20. No doubt also helping were price target hikes from both UBS — to $15 from $13 — and RBC Capital Markets — from $23 to $25.