Earnings That Weren’t at Impac

I recall writing back in February — when very few were looking at the fallout of the subprime credit crunch — about my fear that the subprime market problems I was seeing would spill into Alt-A. Of course, by this point, most of us know that fear was realized — but Impac’s first quarter results underscore just how hard Alt-A has really been hit:

Shares of Irvine-based Impac Mortgage Holdings Inc. dropped about 5% Friday after the mortgage investor reported a first-quarter net loss of $121.7 million a day earlier. Impac, whose Alt-A loans packaged as bonds have risk levels between the best mortgages and subprime loans, reported late Thursday a first-quarter loss of $122 million, versus earnings of $85.6 million a year earlier. Losses on derivatives and charges related to loan buyback requests were largely behind the decline, officials for the real estate trust said. The company sold off $52 million in delinquent loans last quarter, to both manage margin call exposure, as well as convert mortgage loans into cash.

Impac recently laid off staff in a move many members of the press penned as a “shock” for a company “that said it could weather industry woes” (not my words, but the OC Register’s). The company has a well-earned rep in the industry as a fair player, however, and even laid-off employees couldn’t muster a bad word for the press about their fate: “It was done abruptly but professionally,” said Arthur Metz, 55, a software developer who was laid off from his job in the IT department. “I’ve only good things to say about Impac. I like working there. It’s the suddenness of it.”

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