The latest quarterly results from two stocks with dividends higher than 10% are in, and while the mortgage real estate investment trust, or mREIT, industry had a tough year, Hatteras Financial (NYSE: HTS ) and CYS Investments (NYSE: CYS ) perhaps have weathered the storm and could be poised for growth.
Strong results from Hatteras
In the face of rising interest rates that increased hedging costs and reduced the value of their investments, mortgage REITs had a troubling 2013, and Hatteras was no exception. It went from reporting $3.67 in earnings per share in 2012 to a loss of $1.59 per share last year.
Still, Hatteras performed well in the fourth quarter; its quarterly loss stood at $15.5 million, versus a loss of $268 million in the third quarter.
Hatteras highlighted its continued effort to reduce company leverage -- its debt-to-equity fell from 7.9 at the end of September to a flat 7 at the end of December -- and also increase its hedges against potential losses. In addition, Hatteras' core earnings rose from $0.44 in the third quarter to $0.51 for the fourth quarter.
One of the most interesting things about Hatteras was the recent revelation that fellow mREIT American Capital Agency (NASDAQ: AGNC ) had bought nearly 8.5% of the company's common stock. American Capital Agency President and CIO Gary Kain said the reason behind this purchase was that he simply felt it was a compelling value and made business sense. In addition, since Hatteras is focused largely on adjustable rate mortgages, there is a difference in the companies' underlying business operations.
Altogether, Hatteras Financial had a solid fourth quarter, and despite the turmoil that characterized mortgage REITs in 2013, CEO Michael Hough ended on an upbeat note: "We are pleased with our fourth-quarter results, especially as they indicate the success of the rebalancing efforts made by our portfolio team during the second half of 2013. Our goal is to establish a conservative portfolio that can generate predictable returns and we believe that our portfolio is positioned to perform well and to our expectations."
Business strength at CYS
Last year was also difficult for CYS Investments, as it reported a net loss of $2.90 per share versus a gain of $2.64 in earnings per share seen in 2012. The dip was almost entirely attributable to realized losses and depreciation on its investments, which represented a loss of $910 million in 2013 versus a gain of $227 million in 2012. In fact, its net investment income, which is simply interest income minus expenses, actually rose from $229 million to $258 million.
While news of a major investment from another hasn't quite made the headlines at CYS like it has at Hatteras, the company was still optimistic about the future, noting, "the higher rate environment has created an improved investing environment, which should allow the Company to generate an attractive dividend while operating at the low end of its leverage range"
With each of these companies continuing to trade at a discount to book value -- 0.93 for CYS and 0.89 for Hatteras -- the market is showing it still believes new struggles could present themselves in the mortgage REIT space with rising rates. Yet ultimately, it looks like these two firms may be ahead of things and are poised to finally capitalize on the rising rates instead of being harmed by them.
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