Genworth Financial Shares Plunged: What You Need to Know

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of mortgage and life insurer Genworth Financial (NYSE: GNW  ) fell more than 15% in intraday trading as investors reacted to the company's third-quarter earnings report.

So what: If you're looking for signs that the housing market is still struggling (as if it's not obvious enough), look no further than Genworth's results. While profit in the company's retirement and protection segment -- which includes life insurance, long-term-care insurance, and wealth management -- fell during the quarter, the loss on its U.S. mortgage insurance business got much uglier, widening to $152 million this year from $116 million last year. Overall operating earnings per share were $0.06, well short of analysts' expectation of $0.25.

Now what: The private mortgage insurance industry has been a fierce front in the housing fracas, and mortgage insurers have been one of the hardest-hit groups. Yesterday, Genworth competitors PMI Group (NYSE: PMI  ) , Radian Group (NYSE: RDN  ) , and MGIC Investment (NYSE: MTG  ) were all on the downswing after PMI Group reported disappointing earnings of its own. The end isn't likely to happen overnight, and in the meantime, Genworth's management may have some additional heat on it after outspoken hedge fund manager Steve Eisman blamed the company's executives for "a massive destruction of shareholder value" and threatened a proxy battle.

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Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. You can check out what Matt is keeping an eye on by visiting his Motley Fool CAPS portfolio, or you can follow Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool or on his RSS feed. The Fool's disclosure policyassures you no Wookiees were harmed in the making of this article.


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