On its conference call with investors, and in its earnings, Ocwen Financial (OCN) sought to limit concerns about the many issues the mega mortgage servicer is facing. For one, it missed consensus on fourth-quarter earnings.
Also, Moody's Investors Service is citing concerns that nonbank mortgage servicing companies, such as Ocwen, will begin originating nonprime mortgages.
This move could happen, the credit ratings agency says, as regulators try to limit the amount of growth at those firms.
And, the New York Department of Financial Services indefinitely halted Ocwen's $2.7 billion deal to purchase mortgage servicing rights on approximately $39 billion of unpaid principal balance from Wells Fargo (WFC).
And then there are other, nagging issues, like a perception of bad treatment of homeowners and its latest bond deal, OASIS, being under-subscribed by investors.
Here are the five things Ocwen is doing to quiet critics. (Hint: It's working, the stock is up in today's trading)
1. Ocwen execs confirm they are not doing any subprime lending.
So, Moody's, this isn't your housing-boom crazy form of mortgage origination. It's actually very responsible. Mortgages are full-doc and not interest only.
2. Altisource is an arms-length relationship.
The New York Department of Financial Services is also probing Ocwen's outlier businesses, Altisource and Home Loan Servicing Solutions. Ocwen execs simply said they are at arms length and left it at that. There is no mention of either firm in the earnings filings with the SEC.
3. Ocwen's customer service is on a similar level as its peers.
It's a distressed business. People are going to be unhappy with the liquidation of their homes. That's not Ocwen's fault, is it?
4. There is no incentive to foreclose fast.
Ocwen notes it completed 29,979 loan modifications, HAMP modifications accounting for 44% of the total. Modifications that included some principal reduction accounted for 54% of total modifications. Actually, HARP refis are still one of the biggest earners for Ocwen, though its share is slipping.
5. Compliance. Compliance. Compliance.
Ron Faris, President and CEO: "We continue to focus our attention on regulatory compliance and on assisting struggling homeowners. During 2013 we made significant progress in enhancing our compliance management system. We helped a record number of struggling homeowners. We expanded our partnerships with consumer housing counselors. And, we will continue these efforts with even more vigor in 2014."