American Home Mortgage Investment Co. said late Friday that it would delay payment of its quarterly dividend amid mounting concerns over liquidity at the Melville, NY-based lender. It gets worse: shares of AHM were halted on the NYSE this morning as shares had plunged more than 40 percent in pre-market trading. From Friday's press release by the company:
"The company ... [is] delaying payment of its quarterly cash dividends ... in order to preserve liquidity until it obtains a better understanding of the impact that current market conditions in the mortgage industry and the broader credit market will have on the company's balance sheet and overall liquidity. The disruption in the credit markets in the past few weeks has been unprecedented in the company's experience and has caused major write-downs of its loan and security portfolios and consequently has caused significant margin calls with respect to its credit facilities."
This is the latest battering AHM stock has taken. Roughly a week and a half ago, American Home's stock had plunged more than 20 percent on rumors that a major creditor had backed out of a warehouse credit commitment; the company never issued a formal statement on the matter, but did suggest to numerous media outlets that the rumor was not true at the time.