Chin Up in the Downswing: Pre-Owned Home and Jewelry Sales Up, Some Stocks Hang Tough
by Anne Szustek
Sales of previously owned homes were up last month. Other rebounders include fourth-quarter profits at luxe jewelry brand Tiffany and stocks at e-commerce sites, cell phone companies and coffeehouses.
According to BloggingStocks, statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show the largest rise in sale of pre-owned homes in the United States since July 2003. Last month, sales of previously owned homes increased by 5.1 percent. The figure includes an increase in all four regions (Midwest, South, West and Northeast) followed by the NAR; the Northeast showed a 15.6 percent year-on-year rise in sales. Despite sales being “very soft,” as he put it, NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said that the February sales figures are "obviously good news for the industry and the economy.” Yun also projects 1 million more home sales during 2009 on the back of the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers that will be provided under the $787 billion stimulus package passed last month.
High-end jewelry company Tiffany reported the biggest increase in its share price in more than three months Monday. The news followed reports that the company exceeded its fourth-quarter profit projections on the back of lower expenses, including lower incentive compensation for management. Tiffany pulled in per-share profits of $0.85, surpassing the average projection on Tiffany’s price-per-share by six cents, as according to the 10 analysts polled by Bloomberg. Pali Capital analyst Stacey Widlitz told Bloomberg that Tiffany “did do a good job of cost controls.”
Chain coffeehouses, some dot-com retailers and cell phone companies are among the stocks that have weathered the recession. Amazon stock has nearly doubled in price since November. Shares of online movie rental service Netflix have topped $40 for the first time, a nod to the fact that more people are staying in during the recession. Starbucks stock has rebounded 55 percent, after promotional efforts like its loyalty card, which among other benefits, offers patrons free Wi-Fi access. Competitor Peets has seen a 10 percent price rise per share. Cell phone companies have also seen a resurgence in their stock prices. A possible reason for this, says Oppenheimer analyst Tim Horan in The Wall Street Journal, “We’ve learned this recession that wireless has become more of a necessity. We haven't seen a lot of people dropping their cellphone service.”