Home builder stocks that stayed hot through winter: Pro

Home builders outside the Northeast and other weather-battered areas were spared the growth-stunting effects of this winter's barrage of snowstorms, Susquehanna Financial's Jack Micenko told CNBC on Thursday.

These stocks trade on orders, and Lennar and KB Homes saw strong order growth as their operations focused on housing markets in California, central Texas and the Southwest, which did not bear the brunt of a harsh winter, said Micenko, a home builder analyst. Profits on home sales have exceeded expectations at both companies, he added.

Other home builders, such as Toll Brothers, saw orders drop this winter in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, where snow and frigid temperatures hindered construction.

Micenko's comments came a day after Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman told CNBC that housing has lost its "big pop" as an investment option. Blackstone has poured more than $7 billion into residential real estate over the past year years.

(Read more: Housing loses 'big pop': Blackstone's Schwarzman)

Micenko highlighted two of his favorite stocks in the home builder sector, beginning with PulteGroup. He believes the company successfully cut down on its leverage after the subprime mortgage crisis, and said its lowered expectations on orders can create upside if growth turns out better than expected. He placed a $25 price target on PulteGroup shares, which were trading just under $20 on Thursday.

"They've re-engineered their business and their margins will continue to improve regardless of whether we get home price appreciation," Micenko said.

KB Home remains a stock to watch because of its move into higher end homes in California's real estate market, he added.

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen. Reuters contributed to this report.

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  • Diana Olick

    Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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