Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

AG Mortgage Investment Trust (NYSE:MITT)
Q1 2021 Earnings Call
May 06, 2021, 8:30 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Operator

Welcome to the AG Mortgage Investment Trust first-quarter 2021 earnings call. My name is Erin, and I'll be your operator for today's call. [Operator instructions] I'll now turn the call over to Jenny Neslin. Jenny, you may begin.

Jenny Neslin -- General Counsel and Secretary

Thank you, Erin. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the first-quarter 2021 earnings call for AG Mortgage Investment Trust. With me on the call today are David Roberts, our chairman and CEO; T.J. Durkin, our president; Nick Smith, our chief investment officer; and Anthony Rossiello, our chief financial officer.

Before we begin, please note that the information discussed in today's call may contain forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statements made during today's call are subject to certain risks and uncertainties which are outlined in our SEC filings, including under the headings cautionary statement regarding forward-looking statements, risk factors and management's discussion and analysis. The company's actual results may differ materially from these statements. We encourage you to REIT the disclosure regarding forward-looking statements contained in our SEC filings, including our most recently filed form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020.

Except as required by law, we are not obligated and do not intend to update or to review, or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. During the call today, we will refer to certain non-GAAP financial measures. Please refer to our SEC filings for reconciliations to the most comparable GAAP measures. We will also reference the earnings presentation that was posted to our website this morning.

To view the slide presentation, turn to our website www.agmit.com and click on the link for the first-quarter 2021 earnings presentation on the homepage in the Investor Presentation section. Again, welcome to the call, and thank you for joining us today. With that, I'd like to turn the call over to David.

David Roberts -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Jenny. Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us. I'd like to welcome Jenny Neslin from whom you just heard. Jenny recently joined Angelo Gordon and was appointed as our general counsel.

She has served as both in-house and outside counsel to a number of companies in our industry. She brings valuable legal oversight, public company reporting, and governance experience to MITT, and we are extremely happy to have her on our team. Our company remains focused on our previously stated plan to increase the company's long-term earnings power while maintaining adequate liquidity and increasing book value. A key component of our plan is to play to our strengths in residential whole loans, specifically, our significant investment in Arc Home and our experience and expertise in the non-agency space.

To help us execute that plan, we are delighted to have Nick Smith join us as our chief investment officer. Nick will work closely with T.J. Durkin, who, as you heard and you've seen, is now MITT's president. Nick will work with T.J.

to accelerate our company's emphasis on whole loans, and you'll hear from Nick later on the call. We believe that over the long term, we can drive more value for our shareholders with our differentiated whole loan strategy. We call our strategy differentiated, not because we are unique, but because only a subset of mortgage REITs have our combination of skills, experience, and infrastructure to execute this strategy, which we will discuss in further detail later on the call. Now, turning to our first-quarter financial performance.

I am pleased to report that our adjusted book value per common share increased to $4.76 per share as of March quarter-end, compared to $3.94 per share as of December 31, 2020. That's an increase of $0.82 per share or 21%. As a reminder, adjusted book value excludes as an asset the capitalized issuance costs of our preferred stock and therefore is $0.16 lower per share than our GAAP book value. The increase in our book value quarter over quarter was driven primarily by a rise in the value of our residential whole loans and our CMBS, as well as continued strong performance from our mortgage affiliate Arc Home.

In the fourth quarter, we reinstated the dividend on the company's common and preferred stock. Building off this momentum, the company declared an increased dividend on our common stock for the first quarter of $0.06 per share. In addition, we have returned to normal course dividend payments on our preferred stock with the first-quarter dividend paid on March 17. Now, I'm pleased to turn the call over to T.J.

Durkin to cover our operational highlights for the quarter.

T.J. Durkin -- President

Thank you, David, and good morning, everyone. During the quarter, we executed another accretive opportunity to strengthen our capital base by redeeming approximately 500,000 shares of preferred stock at a slight discount in exchange for 2.8 million shares of common stock. We also successfully utilized our ATM program during the quarter to raise net proceeds of approximately $10 million through the issuance of 2.2 million shares of common stock at a weighted average price of $4.53 per share. We reinvested that capital during the quarter into residential asset classes including both non-QM loans and agency whole pools.

Turning to our presentation on Page 5, we present the first-quarter portfolio update. As previously mentioned on our last quarter's earnings call, we sold two of our four remaining commercial real estate whole loans at prices slightly above our year-end marks. During the quarter, we increased the size of the portfolio from $1.4 billion to $1.9 billion, mainly through agency purchases of approximately $443 million and non-QM whole loan purchases of approximately $209 million. Across the bottom table, you can see we continue to prudently increase the earnings power of the portfolio while maintaining adequate liquidity.

Train to Slide 6, you can see the allocation of equity among residential credit investments, agency MBS, and commercial investments. During the quarter, we made continued progress shifting the portfolio into residential loans, which now represent over 60% of the portfolio, and deploying excess liquidity into agency MBS to keep liquid NIM in the portfolio as we continue to build our pipeline of residential loans. Moving to Slide 7. We took advantage of strong credit markets within the first quarter to sell securities, which we are passive owners in and not related to our securitizations or hold-on activity.

Along with other Angelo Gordon funds, we also completed a non-QM securitization subsequent to quarter-end and have increased our borrowing capacity on warehouse lines for further acquisitions. On Slide 8, you can see we continue to be able to create an agency MBS book with better prepayment performance to the market due to our size and selecting this when purchasing spec pools. On Slide 9, you can see our CRE and CMBS exposure continues to shrink given the two CRE loan sales mentioned earlier along with other CMBS sales during the quarter. Subsequent to quarter-end, we exited all our remaining Freddie K multifamily securities.

At this point, our commercial exposure is less than 5% of our overall investment portfolio with two commercial real estate loans left and three CMBS single asset single borrower securities remaining. We believe there's further book value upside remaining in these assets, and we'll prudently continue to manage this exposure down while being disciplined on the exit prices. Turning to Slide 10. We want to again highlight the strong performance of Arc Home, our licensed mortgage origination affiliate during the first quarter.

During the quarter, the team at Arc continued to take advantage of the talents in the mortgage banking sector, with another strong quarter in both volume and margins within the agency channels. And as we stated on previous earnings calls, Arc Home was one of the first originators to reenter the non-QM business post-COVID and you can see clearly how this product represented in increasing percentage of Arc's fundings since.We believe this early reentry into non-QM build strong brand awareness and recognition for Arc Home in the non-agency correspondent and wholesale markets, as the agency refi wave begins to receive over the near to medium term. We provided additional detail on Arc's funding volumes by channel, product, and overall gain-on-sale margin for reference in the chart here on Slide 10. I'll point out post-quarter-end, we have seen margins in the agency space continue to narrow due to both interest rates and some GSE implementation affecting certain forms of delivery into the cash window.

And just as a reminder, MITT owns approximately 45% of Arc Home, and the remainder is owned by other Angelo Gordon managed funds. So for me wrapping up, we're pleased with the progress we made over the last year simplifying our asset mix and balance sheet to be focused on growing our residential whole loans in concert with the growth from Arc Home while maintaining a prudent balance of agency mortgages for both earnings power and liquidity. We think there's a lot happening within the mortgage origination ecosystem, which MITT will be well-positioned to take advantage of. As I look ahead, I'm very excited to have Nick Smith on our team to help us execute on the strategy as a CIO of MITT.

With that, I'll turn the call over to Nick.

Nick Smith -- Chief Investment Officer

Good morning, everyone, and thank you for the introduction. After nearly two decades working in different capacities on the sale side and most recently running the non-AMC RMBS and whole-loan trading business at BofA Securities, I couldn't be happier joining the MITT management team. My career coincides with a very exciting environment for residential mortgage finance. Recently, regulatory, structural, and market changes have set the backdrop for what likely will be the most dynamic period for investing in the new origination non-agency residential space in decades.

As origination community begins to grapple with margin pressure and capacity remains at historic highs, we anticipate a quick return by originators into the non-agency market. As T.J. mentioned in anticipation of this, we have been early in reentering and expanding our presence in the non-QM space. As they return, they will be pleasantly surprised by the new QM rules released by the CFPB.

We expect these new rules to allow originators to embrace the past decades' technological gains in underwriting, to streamline originations, while simultaneously reducing manufacturing risks and the associated costs. In addition to underwriting efficiencies, these new rules better align the risk retention requirements with the actual credit risk.Although there is some uncertainty around exactly what credits will qualify as QM, we are adapting our product offerings to maximize anticipated capital efficiencies. With mortgage credit availability at levels last seen almost a decade ago, we strongly believe these expanded product offerings will deliver attractive risk-adjusted returns. If as anticipated, the new risk retention requirements better align capital requirements with actual credit risk, the deployment of structural versus financial leverage can more prudently be managed to deliver returns.

Said differently, no longer will additional terms of leverage be required to deliver market returns since we will be able to sell these lower returning securities to the market. Additionally, the increased liquidity in these credits will allow us to optimize the risk and return profile throughout each investment's respective horizon. If these changes were not encouraging enough, the Treasury Department and the FHFA recently announced an amended preferred stock purchase agreement with the GSEs. This agreement commits to further GSE reform while introducing limits on acquisitions of mortgage loans secured by second homes and investment properties, as well as single-family mortgage loans with multiple higher risk characteristics.

Although subsets of these loans have been included, private labels and private label securitization previously, these changes are good steps toward leveling the playing field for private capital. Despite recent trade group's reservations about the potential disruptive nature of these policies, we believe that ultimately, originators consumers, and investors will benefit. We are confident that we will be able to prudently grow our non-agency loan portfolio by delivering our origination partners attractive product offerings. Alongside our proven track record of sourcing assets is our vertically integrated mortgage originator, Arc Homes, and an affiliated loan asset management service provider.

The ability to grant organically grow originations with Arc Home, combined with access to in-house asset management services, sets us apart from many of our peers. While many other markets may struggle with sourcing attractive assets, we expect non-agency loan volumes to grow while simultaneously benefiting from near historic close and risk-free yields and credit spreads. The current market conditions and proprietary capabilities are already in place, along with knowing T.J. and many from the investment team here at Angelo Gordon for over a decade, made this career move to MITT an easy decision.

Again, I'm excited to be on board and look forward to updating you on our continued progress over the coming quarters. Anthony, I'll turn it to you for an overview of our financial performance.

Anthony Rossiello -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Nick, and good morning, everybody. During the first quarter, we reported net income available to common stockholders of approximately $39 million or $0.91 per fully diluted share. Earnings were driven by several positive factors including asset appreciation across both residential and commercial credit investments, improvement net interest margin on our non-QM and agency RMBC portfolios, and $6 million of earnings from our 45% equity method investment in Arc Home, which is held within a taxable REIT subsidiary. Net interest margin expanded as a result of improved asset yields, as well as reduced financing rates within the non-QM and agency portfolios.

We also were able to mitigate much of the interest rate risk within our agency RMBS portfolio through economic hedges we put in place. On Slide 14, we provided a reconciliation of book value per common share, which increased by $0.79 during the quarter. This increase reflects our current quarter earnings offset by the preferred and common dividend declared during the first quarter and you will also see increases related to the preferred stock exchange transaction entered into during the quarter, as well as the net proceeds raised from issuing common stock through our ATM program which approximated $10 million. As discussed on our previous earnings calls, we also disclosed adjusted book value per common share of $4.76, which is computed based on total equity, less the entire liquidation preference of our preferred stock.

Turning to Slide 15, we disclose the reconciliation of GAAP net income to core earnings for the first quarter where you will see we recognized core earnings of $0.08 per common share. When compared to core earnings in the fourth quarter of $0.22 per common share, the decline is representative of a core record earnings achieved that Arc Home and response to the elevated origination and gain on sale market conditions experienced during 2020. Despite normalizing margins, Arc Home continued to contribute to core earnings through its origination business while also recognizing mark-to-market gains on its MSR portfolio, which is not included in core earnings. Lastly, we ended the quarter with total liquidity of $52 million, which is after paying down the remaining secured note we had outstanding with our manager for $10.6 million.

And subsequent to quarter-end, CMBS sales and a non-QM securitization that we transacted also generated additional liquidity for reinvestment. This concludes our prepared remarks. And we would now like to open the call for questions. Operator?

Questions & Answers:


Operator

[Operator instructions] We do have our first question from Bose George with KBW. Your line is open.

Bose George -- KBW -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Good morning. Thanks. Actually, the first question was just curious where you see sort of incremental ROEs on the capital you're putting to work, especially on the whole loan side.

And then just how we should think about kind of run rate returns for the business model?

T.J. Durkin -- President

Yeah. Hi, Bose, it's T.J. I think breaking it down, I think on the agency side, we see probably very, very low double-digit ROEs when we're hedging out the rate risk. On the whole loan side, I think it's probably closer to the lower to mid-teen ROEs post-securitization.

And then I think as you think about the run rate where you're we're still kind of in the transition mode of rotating the capital and I think in a few quarters, once we get the portfolio sort of in the place we want it to be, it will be a more consistent kind of run rate that I think we'll be able to better forecast to you. So we're not quite there yet, but I think we're getting close.

Bose George -- KBW -- Analyst

OK. That makes sense. And then actually, just at Arc Home, it seems like there's a hand-off from the agency's market to more of a QM market as that volume there ramps up. But when we think about sort of the earnings outlook, should we think there's potentially the agency market slows and, you know, before it really sort of picks up a little more?

T.J. Durkin -- President

Yeah. So we intend to maintain our agency business at Arc Home. I think we're just cognizant of the fact that one, volumes are coming down; and two, margins are coming down. But we still are fully in that business.

At the same time, historically speaking, credit products typically have wider margins. And so we continue to look to grow and gain market share there, given sort of the proprietary relationship that we have and we hope that will somewhat even out some of the probably earnings' headwinds on agencies with more volume within the non-agency space as a tailwind. But I mean, we're obviously subject to, you know, the mortgage industry's volumes.

Bose George -- KBW -- Analyst

Sure. OK, great. Well, thanks a lot.

Operator

And your next question comes from Trevor Cranston with JMP Securities. Your line is open.

Trevor Cranston -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

Hey. Thanks. A couple more questions on Arc Home. On the non-QM side, volumes obviously started to pick up nicely there.

Do you guys share any thoughts on sort of your targets for Arc Home and how much you think they might be able to originate in the non-QM space on a quarterly basis over the next few quarters?

T.J. Durkin -- President

I mean, we continue to -- Arc Home, I should say, continues to invest in that space. Obviously, people, technology, and equity capital, we're getting to pretty good run rate volumes. You can see on Page 10, crossing nine digits, and hopefully, that will be a fairly consistent run rate as it's less, cyclical to rates and refinancing. So we would hope to be able to continue to produce in excess of $100 million a month going forward.

And I think as Nick alluded to, having him on board will hopefully be able to also add some complementary products that Arc Home isn't currently offering, to further expand the product mix and then, by default, the volumes.

Trevor Cranston -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

Got it, OK. And on the on the agency portfolio, I think you mentioned sort of a low double-digit return opportunity. Are you guys currently investing in TBAs and is part of that return coming from dollar rolls? Or is that more just on the pool side? And I guess a second question on the agency book, you know, your prepaid fees look like they've been exceptionally low relative to the market and relative to your peers. I was wondering if you could just provide some more detail on kind of the type of spec pools you guys have and how you've achieved such low prepaid fees?

T.J. Durkin -- President

Yeah. So we're invested in spec pools in a cash format. We're not really participating in the TBA roll trade if you will. The spec pools that we're by -- we give you a little bit of a breakout on Page 8 of the types of spec pools.

That's going to be what you'd expect in terms of loan balance, or investor paper, or geo concentrations, New York, Florida pools, etc. And again, we have about a billion as of March 31, for $900 million of fair value. That size of spec pools allows us to be very selective. And again, we're sort of positioned to probably lower coupon, 2s, 2.5s versus being up in coupon, which I think maybe has more yield, but obviously a different return profile and convexity profile.

Trevor Cranston -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

Got it. OK. And then last question. We've seen some M&A activity in the mortgage originator space.

So I was just curious if -- you guys already have Arc Home, obviously -- but are there any other opportunities you're looking at to maybe make investments in like non-agency type focused originators? Or are you sort of content to source loans the way you've been doing them for the last couple of quarters? Thanks.

T.J. Durkin -- President

Yeah. So I think just in terms of sourcing loans, in a way from our call, we've been buying from a small stable consistently over the past few years that we've obviously developed good relationships with. We always do take inbound calls from bankers about other opportunities to the extent they make sense. In conjunction with Arc Home, I don't think that we would be looking to stand up a competitor.

So if there was something differential about the opportunity, we would look to pursue it but we're not looking to have two different operating companies as part of demand.

David Roberts -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

It's David Roberts. I would just add that the Management team that runs Arc Home has experience across a wide range of product types and channels. So it's more, as T.J. said, we wouldn't say never, but it's much more likely that we would do something organically in terms of expansion through Arc.

Trevor Cranston -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

OK, makes sense. Appreciate the comments. Thank you.

Operator

And we have another question in queue from Eric Hagen with BTIG. Your line is open.

Eric Hagen -- BTIG -- Analyst

Hey, good morning. How are you guys? Just a couple from me. Can you just share how much excess liquidity you estimate you have between cash and unencumbered assets? And then on the non-QM side, there's lots of different types of non-QM out there. Can you share which types you're focused on buying?

Anthony Rossiello -- Chief Financial Officer

In terms of the excess liquidity, Eric, like we said, we had a couple of sales subs into quarter-end on the CMBS side. And we also generated some liquidity from the non-QM securitizations that we have. And when you think about liquidity, there's also a few other CMBS sales that we have in the portfolio that we would look to opportunistically exit, which when you think about that at least just from the commercial side, we have probably an additional $12 million of liquidity on the CMBS side. And I would say generation of probably $10 million on the securitization that we just entered into on the non-QM side.

Nick Smith -- Chief Investment Officer

This is Nick Smith. Addressing specifically the product mix and sort of forward-looking or what we're looking to potentially roll out, the current product mix looks a lot like the rest of the market. A good mix of DSC are bank statements, small amounts of asset depletion, sort of what the market has grown comfortable with over the years from some of the peer securitizations and originators. As alluded to in the statements earlier, we do see the recent amendments or framework that the CFPB rolled out for QM creating a good amount of opportunity to rethink what this product mix should look like.

And that's something we're working on as we speak. Certainly, I would not count out any sort of products outside of what people have been familiar with over the past few years. Certainly, if capital requirements are more attractive, meaning you have to hold less capital with the new QM rules, that expands a wide range of new products to make returns work where returns just had not historically worked.

Eric Hagen -- BTIG -- Analyst

Thanks. That's helpful. Appreciate it.

Operator

We have another question in queue from Doug Harter with Credit Suisse. Your line is open.

Joshua Bolton -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hey, guys, this is Joshua Bolton on for Doug. In your comments, you talked about as conventional products in mortgage originations gets pressured on the margin, that you expect more competition in the non-QM space. Curious if you've seen that competition picking up when that happened and kind of your expectations for how that might pressure margins in the coming quarters? Thanks.

T.J. Durkin -- President

I think it's all starting to happen. I think April's rate move sort of pulled people forward in terms of thinking about this. So I think it's sort of in the lab and we'll start seeing it kind of materialize in the coming months. But we haven't really seen it in the market yet, but we know it's coming.

Joshua Bolton -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Got it. Makes sense. All right. Appreciate that.

Operator

And there are no more questions in queue at this time.

David Roberts -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

OK. Well, thank you very much for joining our call and we look forward to reporting to you next quarter.

Operator

[Operator signoff]

Duration: 30 minutes

Call participants:

Jenny Neslin -- General Counsel and Secretary

David Roberts -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

T.J. Durkin -- President

Nick Smith -- Chief Investment Officer

Anthony Rossiello -- Chief Financial Officer

Bose George -- KBW -- Analyst

Trevor Cranston -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

Eric Hagen -- BTIG -- Analyst

Joshua Bolton -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

More MITT analysis

All earnings call transcripts

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.