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Walter Investment tanks thanks to low interest rates

Posts GAAP net loss of $172.7 million in first quarter, stock plummets

The first quarter’s historically low interest rates did more than just negatively impact the earnings of Freddie Mac, which reported a $354 million net loss in the first quarter. The quarter’s low rates also obliterated the bottom line of Walter Investment Management Corporation.

Walter Investment reported its first-quarter earnings on Tuesday as well, and the results and resulting impact were just as rough as Freddie Mac.

Walter Investment saw its revenue fall $244.1 million from the fourth quarter of 2015, dropping from $331.6 million in the fourth quarter to $66.8 million in the first quarter, thanks in large part to interest rates.

According to Walter Investment’s earnings report, the decrease in revenue was driven by a decrease in net servicing revenue of $196.6 million as well as fees reflecting a $197.3 million change in fair value charges to mortgage servicing rights.

Overall, Walter Investment reported a GAAP net loss of $172.7 million, or $4.85 per share, compared to a GAAP net loss of $31 million, or $0.82 per share for the same time period last year.

“First-quarter performance was significantly impacted by the challenging rate environment,” Denmar Dixon, Walter Investment's vice chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president, said. “The decline in rates drove a volatile MSR market and negatively impacted results through the revaluation of mortgage servicing rights and accelerated prepayments.”

Walter’s servicing segment recorded negative revenue of $63.3 million in the first quarter of 2016, which was a stark reversal from the first quarter of 2015, when the company’s servicing segment recorded nearly $144 in revenue.

According to the company’s report, the decrease in revenue reflects the “impact of fair value charges” to its mortgage servicing rights.

In his statement, Dixon said that the company is not content with these results and is taking action.

"We are moving with a sense of urgency to improve upon both the customer experience and our operating performance, and we are in the early stages of a transformation of the company,” Dixon said. “We are working to significantly lower our cost structure while redesigning our processes and driving a culture of excellence at Walter that puts our home-owning customers first.”

Walter Investment merged two of its well-known subsidiaries last year, combining its servicing operations and its originations platform, forming Ditech Financial  by merging  Green Tree Servicing and Ditech Mortgage Corp.

Addtionally, Ditech announced that it would be exiting its distributed retail lending channel due to “changes in the market.”

And the impact was felt in Walter’s originations segment.

Walter reported that its originations segment generated revenue of $100.3 million in the first quarter of 2016, a 23% decline as compared to the prior year quarter.

The company stated this was primarily due to a “$37.4 million decrease in net gains on sales of loans driven by a lower volume of locked loans during the current quarter as compared to the prior year quarter resulting from an increase in market competition within the correspondent lending channel and lower retention volumes as there was a slight market shift toward increased volumes of purchase money originations and away from refinancing volumes.”

While Dixon may be bullish on the moves the company is making, the market is not, at least as of Wednesday afternoon.

As of 1:04 p.m. Easter on Wednesday, Walter Investment’s stock is down more than 26% and $1.90 per share for the day.

The company’s stock is currently trading at $5.30 per share. Just over three years ago, the company traded north of $48 per share.

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