The 2 Best Stock Picks for a Lumber Price Surge


Some stocks depend on commodity prices for their success – or failure – and the main ones that come to mind may be inside the energy sector. If Warren Buffett chooses to buy an oil company, as he did through a nine-day buying streak in shares of Occidental Petroleum Co. NYSE: OXY, it may be because he sees a fundamental reason for oil prices to move higher and bring the company’s valuation up with it.

Today, investors can step outside the most commonly watched commodities, such as oil and precious metals. While gold makes a breakout, taking silver along for a ride, some mining stocks can become an excellent space to watch today. But note that today’s soon-to-be hot commodity is the least expected: lumber.

That’s right, lumber prices crashed after their stratospheric rallies in 2020 through 2022, raising the cost of building homes. Today, there are reasons to believe that lumber could make a comeback soon, backed by housing and economic fundamentals. Because of this, investors can have their top pick between stocks like West Fraser Timber Co. NYSE: WFG, Weyerhaeuser NYSE: WY, and even Lennar Co. NYSE: LEN.

Why Analysts’ Downgrade of Lennar Stock Might Be Wrong

Lennar Co. stock logo
$142.26

-0.37 (-0.26%)

(As of 11:41 AM ET)

52-Week Range
$102.90

$172.59

Dividend Yield
1.41%

P/E Ratio
9.67

Price Target
$166.69

Recently, analysts at Citigroup decided to lower their targets on Lennar stock from $174 a share to $164 a share, roughly a 6% decline in forecasted valuations. These analysts lowered their targets due to bearish expectations for the housing sector moving forward.

Weaker readings in the national building permits, roughly 7% down on the year and 3.5% on the month, can be attributed to these bearish views. Lower building permits may indicate weaker housing demand and financial situations among homebuilders and would-be homebuyers.

Overall MarketRank™
4.78 out of 5

Analyst Rating
Hold

Upside/Downside
17.5% Upside

Short Interest
Healthy

Dividend Strength
Moderate

Sustainability
-1.81

News Sentiment
0.18mentions of Lennar in the last 14 days

Insider Trading
Selling Shares

Projected Earnings Growth
12.81%

See Full Details

But that could be about to change. The Federal Reserve postponed interest rate cuts throughout 2024. Still, the CME’s FedWatch tool now sees over 60% probability for a rate cut as soon as September of this year. That could spark new housing demand as mortgage rates also come down.

Cheaper mortgages could spark new housing demand. Now that lumber prices are back to normal, margins for newly built homes could help Lennar see better treatment from Wall Street analysts. In fact, some in the construction sector may be already aware of these coming trends.

According to their second quarter 2024 earnings results, Lennar reports a 19% increase in new orders, bringing the total to 21,293 homes today.

The company’s backlog is now worth up to $8.2 billion, and according to the latest employment situation report (NFP), out of the total 206,000 jobs added to the economy, roughly 27,000 (or 13%) jobs went to the construction sector. New hands are needed to respond to the potential demand breakout if and when the Fed cuts rates in September.

The One Stock to Watch as Housing Demand Surges: West Fraser Timber

West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd. stock logo
WFGWFG 90-day performance

West Fraser Timber

$74.38

-0.39 (-0.52%)

(As of 11:49 AM ET)

52-Week Range
$64.11

$90.17

Dividend Yield
1.72%

Price Target
$106.25

Of course, analysts could be wrong about lowering Lennar’s price targets, but investors shouldn’t risk their capital on ‘what ifs’; rather, they can take a safer view on stocks that provide homebuilders with the main commodity they need, which is lumber.

Because lumber prices are so low compared to their 2020-2022 peaks, the profit margin cycle is also lower for companies in the sector. Despite the cycle’s lows, analysts at TD Securities still see a price target of $118 a share for West Fraser Timber stock, daring it to rally by roughly 60% from where it trades today.

Overall MarketRank™
3.63 out of 5

Analyst Rating
Buy

Upside/Downside
42.5% Upside

Short Interest
Bearish

Dividend Strength
Weak

Sustainability
N/A

News Sentiment
1.67mentions of West Fraser Timber in the last 14 days

Insider Trading
N/A

Projected Earnings Growth
72.73%

See Full Details

But West Fraser Timber isn’t the only lumber provider in the block. Weyerhaeuser is also an honorable mention, but here’s how that stock compares to West Fraser.

Wall Street analysts only forecast 17.2% earnings per share (EPS) growth for Weyerhaeuser in the next 12 months, where those covering West Fraser Timber see up to 72.7% EPS growth this year as well, backing up the upside set by price targets.

On a valuation basis, this upside spread is just as evident. Trading at a 9.2x forward P/E multiple today, West Fraser Timber offers a discount of 61% to Weyerhaeuser’s 23.7x forward P/E valuation. If price action can be taken as another gauge of market sentiment, here’s what it looks like for both stocks.

Weyerhaeuser stock traded down to 75% of its 52-week high price, showing investors some bearish momentum. On the other hand, West Fraser Timber stock has traded up to 83% of its 52-week high, spreading the two companies into bearish and bullish momentum separately.

Before you consider West Fraser Timber, you’ll want to hear this.

MarketBeat keeps track of Wall Street’s top-rated and best performing research analysts and the stocks they recommend to their clients on a daily basis. MarketBeat has identified the five stocks that top analysts are quietly whispering to their clients to buy now before the broader market catches on… and West Fraser Timber wasn’t on the list.

While West Fraser Timber currently has a “Buy” rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys.

View The Five Stocks Here

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