Whether or not housing slows, Lee Schultheis is betting on a homebuilder, Tarragon (TARR ), whose stock is up from 12 on Jan. 3 to 21. At 5.25 times his 2006 profit forecast of $4 a share, this little-known stock is cheap, says Schultheis, chief strategist at Alternative Investment Partners, which owns shares. This builder of condominiums and town houses in high-density cities -- mainly in Florida, Tennessee, Texas, and the Northeast -- wouldn't be much affected if housing demand fell: Dwellings are scarce in these places, Schultheis says. In the second quarter, backlog sales (houses sold but not yet delivered) were up 76% from a year ago, to $557 million, notes Schultheis. Tarragon, he says, is a "huge earnings-growth play in housing." His 2005 earnings estimate is $2.65 a share, up from 2004's $1.29. Barclays Bank owns nearly 2% of the stock.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.
By Gene G. Marcial