Housing Market Gets Vote of Confidence from Billionaire Hedge Fund Manager

Greenwich, Conn.–Billionaire hedge fund manager Edward S. Lampert is purchasing shares of homebuilders, mortgage lenders and Home Depot, implying he believes the U.S. housing market will soon recover, The Wall Street Journal said.Lampert’s ESL Investments Inc.–which has concentrated on retail and bank stocks–has 40 percent of car retailer AutoNation Inc. and half of department-store giant Sears Holdings Corp.Now the Greenwich, Conn.-based hedge fund has started buying housing industry stocks, investing in builders such as Centex Corp. and KB Home.ESL also bought roughly four million shares of subprime home and commercial lender CIT Group Inc. and 1.4 million shares of mortgage originator and service company PHH Corp.In addition, Lampert also added to his share of Atlanta-based home-improvement retailer Home Depot Inc. this spring.Steve Lipin, spokesman for the fund–which controls about $11.6 billion in investments–declined to comment on the investments.