IndyMac Speculation Grows; Will Alt-A be a Drag?

As the second quarter earnings season enters full swing, investors are naturally now turning their attention to the health of the Alt-A marketplace — and the recent fate of lenders like Alliance Bancorp are certainly weighing on expectations for IndyMac’s earnings, scheduled to be released on July 31. From BusinessWeek comes some of the scuttlebutt:

For investors in IndyMac Bancorp, here’s the good news: the mortgage lender handles hardly any subprime loans. Defaults on the risky mortgages have skyrocketed, killing off a few of IndyMac’s rivals. And Bear Stearns reported that its two hedge funds that held subprime mortgage debt were virtually worthless. The bad news for IndyMac: The subprime crisis is spreading to other kinds of debt.

The stock lost 5.5 percent on Wednesday after a Lehman analyst downgraded the stock; it’s recovered slightly this morning, up a little over 1 percent to $27.75 as of when this post was published. The thing is this: most of us know there are signs of cracks in the Alt-A market at this point. The question here is one of magnitude, with estimates ranging from a collapse of the Alt-A market to a mild investor pullback. While I think it’s fair to say that IndyMac’s getting the attention when it comes to Alt-A, I’d probably pay as much attention to what’s been taking place over at Impac, another Alt-A operation (but operating as a REIT; as opposed to IndyMac, a federally-chartered thrift). Impac recently suspended dividends, citing its adoption of a new REO liquidation strategy — something I think is probably only part of the story, given that delinquencies have been rising as of late. Delinquencies reached over 6.8 percent of the portfolio by loan volume in April, the last month the company reported delinquencies. Impac’s portfolio delinquency rate had stood at roughly 4.7 percent just six months prior, in October 2006.

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