Walter Investment posts another big loss; names fourth CEO in last 10 months

Posts net loss of $232.4M in Q2; CitiMortgage COO Anthony Renzi to lead company

It’s probably safe to say that Walter Investment Management Corp. is in a state of upheaval right now.

The company announced Tuesday that it posted its second massive quarterly loss of the year during the second quarter, reporting a GAAP net loss of $232.4 million, or $6.49 per share, compared to a GAAP net loss of $38.1 million, or $1.01 per share during the same time period last year.

In the first quarter of this year, 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 in 2015.

In both quarters, Walter Investment cited the current low interest rate environment as a drag on its earnings.

And now, after posting two straight rough quarters thanks to the low interest rates, Walter Investment will have a fourth different person leading the company in just the last 10 months.

Earlier this year, Walter Investment announced that Denmar Dixon was resigning as CEO and vice chairman of the company after serving in the role for only eight months.

Dixon took on the role of CEO in October 2015 after Mark O’Brien, the company's former chairman and CEO, announced he was retiring.

After Dixon left, Walter Investment chose George Awad to fill in as executive chairman and interim CEO while the company’s board searched for a permanent CEO.

Awad brought experience to the position and is a veteran consumer finance executive, with more than two decades of experience at General Electric and Citigroup, having served in leadership positions in Citibank including CEO of Global Consumer Bank in Europe Middle East and Africa. 

But Awad’s tenure is indeed only going to be interim, as the company announced Tuesday that it is set to add Anthony Renzi, who most recently served as the chief operating officer, managing director and head of operations for Citi's North America retail bank, commercial bank and CitiMortgage, as its new CEO.

At Citi, Renzi provided executive operations leadership for customer contact centers, core banking and mortgage operations, branch operations support, investor reporting/servicing accounting, default operations and servicing technology, Walter Investment said in a release.

Renzi brings more than 30 years of experience to Walter Investment. Earlier in his career, Renzi was the executive vice president of the single-family business, operations and technology at Freddie Mac and the chief operating officer of GMAC Residential Capital and served as president of GMAC Mortgage from 2001 to 2010.

According to the company, Renzi is expected to take over the company in the fourth quarter of this year, making Renzi the fourth different person to lead Walter Investment in roughly one year.

Renzi will step into the big chair at Walter at a time that the company itself bills as a “transformative period.”

In the second quarter, Walter reported a total revenue decline from $225 million in the second quarter of last year to $187.5 million this year.

According to the company, the decline was driven by “$192 million lower net servicing revenue and fees, including $188.6 million higher fair value losses on mortgage servicing rights driven by a higher assumed conditional prepayment rate resulting from declining interest rates and forward projections of interest rate curves.”

Overall, the biggest drag on Walter’s bottom line were goodwill impairment charges of $133.6 million after tax, or $3.73 per share, and non-cash charges of $82.7 million after tax, or $2.31 per share, the company said.

The goodwill impairment charges are the result of fair value changes due to changes in valuation inputs and other assumptions, the company added.

Additionally, Walter Investment said that the goodwill impairment charges incurred in the current quarter relate to the servicing and ARM reporting units within the servicing segment and were primarily the result of elevated discount rates applied to lower re-forecasted cash flows.

Awad said that the company’s second quarter performance was not was the company was expecting.

“While second quarter performance showed improvement in some areas as compared to the prior quarter, our results continue to fall short of expectations, driven by both external factors such as the declining interest rate environment as well as internal operational inefficiencies,” Awad said.

“We remain resolute on achieving sustainable growth, delivering consistent profitability and maximizing our capital allocation,” Awad continued. “Our strategy to achieve these goals is founded on three pillars: capital efficiency, process efficiency and an engaged workforce and new leadership.”

Awad cited the company’s efforts to improve its capital position, including the announcement it made earlier Tuesday that it plans to sell $35 billion in mortgage servicing rights to New Residential Investment for $231 million.

Awad also noted the company’s recent cost-cutting efforts, which included recent layoffs at its subsidiary, Ditech Financial.

Last month, HousingWire and the San Antonio Business Journal separately reported on layoffs at two different Ditech locations.

At the time, the company told HousingWire that it is currently undergoing a shift in its business model and consolidating some of its operations.

“Over the past several years the mortgage industry has shifted to a more ‘normalized’ market, as defaults across the industry continue to decline,” the company said in a statement.

“This shift in the market environment led us to reevaluate our operating model,” Ditech continued. “To ensure we are meeting the demands of the current and future environment while also operating efficiently, we have redesigned our collections and loss mitigation roles, and have made the decision to consolidate some servicing and technology functions to our larger operations sites to gain greater efficiencies across our business.”'

The company put those consolidations and the company’s other efforts into more specific terms.

According to the company’s earnings release, the company engaged workforce reduction, the exit of five regional servicing locations, the consolidation of IT staff into “centers of excellence,” and the redesign of certain servicing operational groups during the second quarter.

“Process efficiencies have been a key focus of the company, as we announced a company-wide process re-engineering initiative earlier this year that includes a comprehensive review of our cost structure and operations,” Awad said. “We have already taken actions this year in conjunction with our transformation efforts that will result in approximately $75 million of annual savings, including further site consolidation, operational realignment, a more focused collections strategy and the redesign of certain operational procedures.”

Moving forward, presumably under Renzi’s leadership, Walter Investment will also be undergoing some cultural changes, Awad said.

“Lastly, our success isn't possible without an engaged and unified workforce,” Awad said. “Building off of our brand consolidation from 2015, we are extending our solidarity as a unified company by forming a single culture across the organization based on newly launched values.”

The brand consolidation Awad is referring to is the merger of two of Walter Investment’s well-known subsidiaries last year, when the company combined its servicing operations and its originations platform, forming Ditech Financial by merging Green Tree Servicing and Ditech Mortgage Corp.

Although Awad will soon be departing, he said that he feels the company is positioning itself for success in the future.

“I am excited to be leading the Company through this transformative period as we continue to strive to become our customers' lifelong partner in homeownership,” Awad concluded. “By executing on our strategy, we are positioning ourselves to deliver future earnings growth and drive value for our stakeholders.”

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