PulteGroup’s stock slips, as buyer traffic ‘decreased materially’ in April after orders sank in March

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Shares of PulteGroup Inc. slipped 0.2% in afternoon trading Thursday, to buck the rally among its home builder peers and the broader stock market, after the company reported a first-quarter profit that topped expectations but revenue that missed, according to FactSet. On the post-earnings call with analysts, Chief Executive Ryan Marshall detailed how the coronavirus pandemic affected its business. He said net new orders for both January and February were up more than 30% from a year ago, but an 11% drop in March led to 16% for the quarter. He said the first week of March net new orders exceeded 800, but that fell to 140 in the final full week. For April, Marshall said buyer traffic to the company website and to its communities has “decreased materially,” and is running a little below 50% of the first-quarter pace. “Given how the U.S. economic slowdown intensified as we moved into April, it is no surprise that housing demand has slipped even further,” Marshall said, according to a FactSet transcript. While PulteGroup’s stock slipped Thursday, the SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF rose 1.9% despite downbeat data on new home sales, and the S&P 500 gained 0.7%.Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.