Housing Market Sprouting Spring Blossoms: CEOs

Wednesday, 24 Apr 2013 | 3:44 PM ET
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An ongoing rebound in the new home market is leading to better sales of building materials like roofing as well as new appliances, two CEOs told CNBC.

"We had a great quarter in roofing," Owens Corning CEO Michael Thaman told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Wednesday. "We're seeing insulation, despite the fact that it's losing money, move back into profitability. And we think composites will begin to turn the corner in the second quarter and improve in the second half."

Owens Corning CEO on Strong Q1
Owens Corning posted strong Q1 earnings. CEO Mike Thaman offers insight on the quarter and the company's plans for the rest of 2013.

Thaman said that his building products company struck a bullish tone about the roofing margins on its earnings call, adding that the insulation business "historically has had very high returns and great performance."

Homebuilding analyst Rob Wetenhall of RBC said Owens Corning has turned a corner with that better performance in roofing. He also likes other building materials companies like USG and Masco.

(Read More: Housing Recovery Still on Track: New Home Sales Rise)

Jeff Fettig, CEO of Whirlpool, told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that housing is recovering strongly.

"Housing is really off to a great, positive trend in the U.S.," he said. "We have seen really for the last several quarters very good double-digit increases in our new housing marketplace. Existing home sales are up very strong double-digits versus a year ago. So we're very bullish on housing."

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But the Whirlpool executive said that new and existing housing makes up only 30 percent of the market for the appliance maker.

Wetenhall is also positive on the broader homebuilding industry, forecasting housing starts to go back to 1.4 million, which is the long-term average, in 2015.

"We have very bullish expectations," Wetenhall said. "We're biased toward the high end of the Street. If these earnings don't show up we may have to rerate the group."

He said the Street needs to see order growth and better gross margin driven by improved pricing dynamics.

Housing Coming Off Depressed State: Pro
While housing demand is back, there just aren't enough homes to sell, reports CNBC's Diana Olick. Bob Wetenhall, RBC Capital Markets, explains which homebuilders he is betting on.

"Last year was about volume recovery. This year is about profit maximization in the context of pushing price and maximizing volume," he said. "Those two things have to happen."

(Read More: Housing's Spring Bloom 'Stuck' Due to Short Supply)

A housing comes back should continue to benefit companies like Owens Corning.

"If we're able to get good margin expansion in roofing and insulation we're able to demonstrate big earnings power," Thaman said.

By CNBC's Justin Menza; Follow him on Twitter @JustinMenza

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