Freddie Mac reports $354M net loss in first quarter

But no draw needed from U.S. Treasury

Freddie Mac reported a $354 million net loss in the first quarter, significantly down from its $2.2 billion net income recorded in the fourth quarter of 2015. The news is a reminder of the government-sponsored enterprise’s net loss of $475 million for the third quarter of 2015, which marked its first loss in four years.

Freddie also posted a comprehensive loss of $200 million, down from last quarter’s comprehensive income of $1.6 billion, but similar to the comprehensive loss of $501 million for the third quarter of 2015.

Due to Freddie’s net worth of $1 billion, it required no draw from U.S. Treasury. To date, the company has returned $98.2 billion to taxpayers.

“Freddie Mac’s first-quarter business results continued to be strong, reflecting our transformation to be a more competitive company. We’re serving our customers better and also more effectively executing on our mission to responsibly support homeowners and renters nationwide,” said Freddie CEO Donald Layton

“The percentage of our purchases of loans to first-time homebuyers hit a 10-year high and we continue to finance record levels of rental housing. Also, the transfer of mortgage credit risk away from taxpayers, which we pioneered, proved its resiliency through the quarter’s significant financial market distress. While the resulting flight-to-quality decrease in interest rates reduced our GAAP results this quarter, an impact which is non-economic in nature, the fundamentals of our business are very solid and continue to improve,” Layton said.

Freddie’s first-quarter results were dominated by negative market-related items of $2 billion, offsetting positive business results, including:  

  • $1.4 billion (after-tax) estimated fair value loss driven by measurement differences between the company’s derivatives, which are measured at fair value, and certain hedged assets and liabilities, which are not.
  • $0.6 billion (after-tax) estimated fair value loss due to the impact of spread widening on certain mortgage loans and mortgage-related securities measured at fair value.
  • $3.4 billion of net interest income of which approximately 45% was derived from management and guarantee fees, up from 37% in the first quarter of 2015, as the mortgage-related investments portfolio continued to decline.

Despite the positive aspects of the results, calls to recapitalize Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae will likely increase. Some analysts argue that Fannie and Freddie are moving more into a position to need additional intervention by the federal government; something brushed off by Freddie Mac repeatedly.

Rafferty Capital Markets equity analyst Dick Bove, for example, worries that the lack of alternatives to housing finance is problematic mainly due to his opinion that both companies are facing insolvency; something also unsubstantiated by Freddie Mac.

In a call with the media this morning, CEO Donald Layton noted that today's loss is only one-sixth of what's necessary to declare before it could even request additional federal funding.

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