Toll Brothers (TOL) 23Q4 Update Report

Toll Brothers’ 23Q4 EPS was $4.11, down 27% from 22Q4’s $5.63, but above my estimate of $3.51 (and the consensus of $3.72).  22Q4 included a $103 million ($0.91 per share) benefit from a litigation settlement.  Revenues fell 18.6% to $3.02 billion, also exceeding my estimate of $2.75 billion.  Deliveries of 2,755 units decreased 26.8% YOY.  The average sales price per unit rose 12.6% to $1.07 million.  Adjusted gross margin of 29.1% was 10 bp above 22Q4.  The SG&A expense ratio of 8.2% rose 50 bp.  New sales contracts surged 71.8% YOY to 2,038 units, exceeding my estimate of 1,939.  Ending backlog was down 18.8% in units and 21.7% in dollar value.  Based upon management’s guidance, I am projecting fiscal 2024 EPS of $12.03, down from 2023’s $12.36.  Management’s guidance on the SG&A expense ratio seems conservative, but projected unit deliveries assume a hefty increase in the backlog conversion ratio.

While Toll and other publicly traded homebuilders have reported surprisingly strong performance; the rest of the housing market is under pressure, as evidenced by the NAHB’s Housing Market Index, a measure of homebuilder sentiment, which is signaling a significant contraction in sales.  CEO Douglas Yearly pointed to the ability of the large builders to gain market share, reduce leverage and de-risk balance sheets, all while continuing to return capital to shareholders, as proof of the resilience of their business models.  He noted that homebuilder valuations, currently at 7 times earnings, are well below the S&P 500 Equal Weight Index’s 16 P/E.  Consequently, he asserts that homebuilder valuations deserve a “fresh look.”

TOL’s stock had fallen 11.7% from August 28, the date of my last report, until October 25; but it has since surged 30.6% (through December 6).  Its total return since my last report (from August 28 to December 6) is 15.4%, in line with other publicly traded homebuilders, but well above the S&P Mid-Cap 400’s flat performance.  With the sharp rally over the past six weeks, the stock is overbought technically and probably due for a correction.  Given the ongoing challenges to affordability presented by high house prices and mortgage rates, TOL’s stock remains unrated.

If the economy does experience only a modest slowdown early next year and growth resumes in the second half, helped by declining interest rates, Toll and other publicly traded builders may be able to avoid a significant decline in sales.  That’s what the market seems to be betting on; but I think that it is too early to make that call.

This is a summary of my recent update report on Toll Brothers, Inc. (TOL). To obtain a copy of the full report, please reach out to me using the contact information provided below.

December 7, 2023 (Report originally published on December 7, 2023.)

Stephen P. Percoco
Lark Research
839 Dewitt Street
Linden, New Jersey 07036
(908) 975-0250

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