In what’s fast becoming the hottest trend in mortgage banking, The PMI Group, Inc. (NYSE:PMI) issued a press statement today attempting to distance the mortgage insurance giant from troubles in the subprime market. “In the current market, we believe it’s important to differentiate ourselves and clarify the prime focus of our business in the United States,” said Steve Smith, CEO of The PMI Group, Inc. “Our principal focus is on sustainable homeownership for individuals and families purchasing homes with less than a 20 percent down payment who have ‘A’ or prime quality credit. Ultimately we believe that the increased recognition of risk in the mortgage marketplace will be a positive for PMI and the market overall.” Although PMI admitted that there is no official definition of less than ‘A’ quality loans, often referred to as subprime, the mortgage industry generally defines them as loans having credit scores of 619 or below, while other market participants will use a score of 580 or 575 or below as the demarcation line. At 2006 year end, 92 percent of PMI’s U.S. portfolio’s risk in force (RIF) was ‘A’ or prime credit quality, defined as having a credit score of 620 or higher. The remaining 8 percent is composed of 5.9 percent with credit scores from 575 to 619, with only 2.1 percent having credit scores below 575. PMI’s U.S.-based RIF stood at $102.6 billion at the end of 2006 — which means that the company’s exposure to subprime loans stood at just over $8.2 billion heading into 2007. Against that, the company held $414.7 million in loss reserves, according to the company’s most recent consolidated balance sheet.
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