If you've held Pulte for one year, you have gains of well over 100%. Can the stock possibly keep going?
Jim Cramer thinks it can.
Although Pulte was the second best performer in the S&P for 2012, Cramer doesn't think that's any cause for concern.
Housing is one of Cramer's favorite themes for 2013 – and Pulte is one of Cramer's favorite ways to trade the trend.
"I think a housing recovery could be the pre-eminent thesis for 2013," said the Mad Money host.
- We've worked through the huge oversupply of shadow inventory.
- Mortgage rates are still at historic lows
- Rents are sky-high (that makes renting less appealing)
- People are tired of postponing milestones in their lives such as moving out of their parents or having children.
"Now, Pulte is not the best homebuilder out there—in my opinion that's Toll Brothers. But Pulte does have something the market really likes - it's a company that's shown a tremendous amount of improvement lately," Cramer explained.
And according to Cramer improvement was needed.
In 2009, Pulte bought Centex, a rival homebuilder. Largely the Street believed that Pulte had overpaid, that it got stuck with a lot of bad land and that it inherited a challenged mortgage business.
Since then, the company's been trying to get its house in order by cutting costs and cleaning up its balance sheet.
"And last year Pulte really started to see the benefits from these moves, as its margins began to increase, something that I think should continue in 2013," said Cramer.
"Plus, Pulte's up against real easy comparisons," Cramer added. "And some of the land acquired from the Centex acquisition turned out to be fantastic swatches on which to build."
All told, Cramer is a buyer – on a pullback.
"The stock is only a few cents off its 52-week high up here, so I'd wait for a nice market-wide pullback before doing any buying. However, I like the stock in 2013 because I believe the recovery in housing will be a powerful theme and as housing comes back, Pulte should come right back with it.
* It's worth noting on the TV show Cramer talked about Pulte relative to Sprint in a discussion of comparative stock picking. For more on this investing concept as well as Cramer's thoughts on Spring – another big 2012 winner, watch the video above.
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