I was going to put this in my update post but its gotten a little long so I thought I’d pop it out on its own. I’ve talked a lot about New Residential and how much I like mortgage servicing rights as a play on a stronger economy and on rising rates. Well a few weeks ago a fellow who follows the blog wrote me about Cherry Hill Mortgage, a company that, like New Residential, is a REIT that holds mortgage servicing rights. It took me a few weeks to find the time to look at the company and another week afterthat for it to really sink in just how cheap it was comparatively. But once it did I felt compelled to take a position.
It was a bit of unfortunate timing; I had to sell about 25% of my (albeit unreasonably large) position in New Residential to fund the purchase. I wasn’t comfortable going on margin to fund the purchase. So I took that New Residential position down from 20% to 15%. Of course the day after I sold New Res at $6 the stock popped to $6.30. Maybe my sacrifice to the gods of trading was appreciated.
Nevertheless, in the long run I hope to be well compensated for my position in Cherry Hill. Cherry Hill is being spun out of the mortgage originator Freedom Mortgage. Soon after the IPO, the company purchased two pools of mortgage servicing rights from Freedom Mortgage. I ran some quick numbers and it looks like the company paid a reasonable price for these assets. In the table below the assets have been valued at cost: Read more
On September 19th I received an email from a friend (hat tip
@VermeulenGold) that an activist investor, Orange Capital, had taken a 5% position in PHH and written a letter to management outlining their recommendations on creating shareholder value. I immediately took a position in the stock.
In order to describe why I acted so quickly, let’s go back to why I sold PHH in the spring. There were two reasons. One was my concern that gain on sale margins would compress significantly – a concern that remains valid today (and could still be my undoing with the stock). The other was that there just didn’t seem to be a catalyst to realize the valuation gap that I saw.
Now, with that catalyst having materialized, I want to be along for the ride.
I wrote about PHH over a year ago. I described the company as having Joel Greenblatt type of spin-off potential. The company had two disparate businesses with little in common. There were aspects of the one business that clouded the accounting of the other. And one of those businesses, mortgage origination, had a not well understood but valuable asset in the mortgage servicing rights that were held.
Now that I have had a chance to read the Orange Capital letter in full, I am happy to see them draw similar conclusions. I added to my position in the company on Monday. It’s a 4.5% position.
The Orange Capital Letter
I would recommend reading the letter in full, it is available here, but briefly, these are the four initiatives suggested by Orange Capital: Read more
Let’s just get right to it. I don’t understand why PHH is as cheap as it is.
I have talked about this before, and I don’t want to reiterate the conclusions of my prior post on PHH (You can be a stock market genius: By Buying PHH Corp), but I do want to take a look at the company from a slightly different perspective to show that, even after the 50% run up since my original post, it remains undervalued.
This week, during one of my lunch hours, I made a comparison between PHH and Nationstar. I was somewhat surprised by the results. The table below lists key statistics of the mortgage origination and servicing businesses for both companies. Read more
I wrote the following article on the weekend for SeekingAlpha publication. Hopefully it will be published on SeekingAlpha in the next few days.
Impac Mortgage Holdings (IMH) is a very simple thesis and so I am going to get straight to the point. Impac is a mortgage originator and real estate services provider that has been growing their origination business at an impressive rate. In addition to its two operating segments, the company has discontinued operations in run-off associated with its pre-2008 activities in mortgage lending and as the manager and residual holder of non-recourse trusts.
Impac earned $1.50 per share from mortgage originations and real estate services in the third quarter. The mortgage origination business pulled in earnings per share of $1.04, while real estate services business earned $0.46. Below are earnings for these two segments over the first three quarters of 2012.
In addition to these strong numbers, growth is expected to continue to be strong going forward. The company noted on the third quarter conference call that origination volumes in October were another 22% higher than the average monthly volume in Q3. Read more