Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Armour Residential Reit Inc (ARR) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers – Oct 29, 2021 at 6:00PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

ARR earnings call for the period ending September 30, 2021.

Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Armour Residential Reit Inc (ARR -0.32%)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Oct 29, 2021, 8:00 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Hello, and welcome to the ARMOUR Residential REIT's Third Quarter 2021 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

I'd now like to turn the conference over to your host today, Jim Mountain. Mr. Mountain, please go ahead.

10 stocks we like better than ARMOUR Residential REIT
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.* 

They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and ARMOUR Residential REIT wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of October 20, 2021

James R. Mountain -- Chief Financial Officer and Secretary

Thank you, Keith, and thanks to all of you for joining us this morning to discuss ARMOUR's third quarter 2021 results. Today, I'm joined by ARMOUR's co-CEOs, Scott Ulm and Jeff Zimmer; and our CIO, Mark Gruber. By now, everyone has access to ARMOUR's earnings release, which can be found on ARMOUR's website, www.armourreit.com. This conference call may contain statements that are not recitations of historical fact and, therefore, constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All such forward-looking statements are intended to be subject to the safe harbor protections provided by the Reform Act.

Actual outcomes and results could differ materially from the outcomes and results expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements due to the impact of many factors beyond the control of ARMOUR. Certain factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements are included in the Risk Factors section of ARMOUR's periodic reports, which are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Copies are available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov. All forward-looking statements made in this conference call are made as of today's date only. They are subject to change without notice. We disclaim any obligation to update our forward-looking statements unless we're required to do so by law. Also, our discussion today may include references to certain non-GAAP measures. A reconciliation of these measures to our most comparable GAAP measures are included in our earnings release, which can be found on ARMOUR's website. An online replay of today's conference call will be available on ARMOUR's website shortly and will continue for one year.

ARMOUR continues to concentrate its portfolio activity in agency MBS for the foreseeable future. Quarter-end book value was $11.09 per common share, down $0.19 from the end of Q2 2021. This quarter-over-quarter decrease reflects spread widening across our MBS portfolio, which is likely the result of concerns over the increasingly imminent Fed taper and the ultimate direction of several stimulus and debt ceiling bills that continue to consume most of the Congressional calendar. While spread widening negatively impacts the current market value of our existing MBS portfolio, it also often represents improving opportunities for new MBS investments.

At September 30, ARMOUR's portfolio consisted of $4.3 billion of agency securities plus TBA positions representing another $4.2 billion. At the close of business this past Tuesday, we estimated book value to be approximately $10.97 per common share. Liquidity, including cash and unencumbered securities, was nearly $900 million, representing almost 78% of our total equity. ARMOUR's Q3 comprehensive income was $13.3 million, which includes $34 million of GAAP net income. Distributable earnings, which excludes gains or losses from security sales and early termination of derivatives as well as market value adjustments but includes TBA drop income, was $24.7 million or $0.25 per common share. You may have noticed that we changed the name of this non-GAAP measure from the prior name we used of core income. We think this better reflects the way we think about this statistic.

During the quarter, ARMOUR issued 4,550,825 shares of common stock through our ATM program, raising $49.1 million of capital after fees and expenses. For the first three quarters, our capital raising efforts have added about $0.03 to book value per common share. In addition to considering whether these offerings are accretive or dilutive on the margin, we also look at their potential for per share cost savings from spreading administrative costs over a larger share base. ACM, the company's external manager continued to waive a portion of its management fee. That waiver was initiated in the second quarter of 2020. This waiver offset $2.1 million of operating expenses for the third quarter of 2021. For Q4 2021, we expect the management fee waiver to total $2 million. ARMOUR paid dividends of $0.10 per common share for each month in the third quarter for a total of $28.5 million. We've also declared October and November common dividends at that $0.10 rate per share as well as the Preferred C Stock dividends for Q4 2021 at the rate of $0.14583 per share.

Now let me turn the call over to co-Chief Executive, Scott Ulm, to further discuss ARMOUR's portfolio position and current strategy. Scott?

Scott J. Ulm -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, Head of Risk Management and Co-Vice Chairman

Thanks, Jim. Interest rates remained at a stalemate in the third quarter between underwhelming monthly increases in employment and elevated inflation driven by supply chain disruptions and an upswing in pent-up demand. Cognizant of risks that rising prices may prove to be longer than transitory, the FOMC has finally signaled its intention to taper asset purchase amounts down to zero by mid-2022, with the start date as soon as November 2021. Unfazed by the increasing imminence of the long-anticipated announcement on tapering, bond markets instead focused on the timing and pace of official interest rate hikes likely to follow. As of mid-October, the short-term OIS rates are pricing in approximately two rate hikes in 2022, followed by perhaps another three rate hikes in 2023. Despite higher expectations for shorter-term borrowing rates, the yield on 10-year treasuries remains below the year-to-date hybrid of 1.75%, muddying the longer outlook for an economic growth recovery. The market seems to be pricing in the looming taper, as seen by the spread widening that happened earlier this year. However, since the second quarter of 2021, option-adjusted spreads on production 30-year mortgages tightened modestly. The wall of cash from the banking community continues to provide a backstop bid to any measurable cheapening from current levels.

We see a potential shift in bank demand in 2022. A continuing strong economic recovery could mean opportunity for bank lending portfolios to expand at the expense of their securities portfolios. Nominal premiums on production-specified pools were nearly unchanged in the third quarter, while OAS spreads improved by three to five basis points. Specified pools have underperformed TBAs in 2021, and we continue to view this sector as rich, supported by demand from outright yield buyers without access to the TBA dollar roll market. The specialness in production dollar rolls is still extraordinarily high. In some instances, TBAs are trading with an implied funding rate of negative 90 basis points, continuing to provide a strong tailwind for earnings. We do expect some of the specialness in funding to start fading slowly as Fed monthly net purchases are set to decline next year. However, the vast majority of worst to deliver bonds remain locked away in the Fed's portfolio, and we foresee strong roll returns persisting beyond the next [Technical issues] months. For now, we continue to allocate approximately 50% of our assets to TBA rolls weighted 60-40 to 15-year and 30-year TBAs.

We plan to stay with these proportions until more attractive opportunities in specified pools present themselves. The other half of our assets have favorable prepayment protection characteristics composed primarily of prepayment penalties and DUS and lower loan balances in MBS pools. These assets contribute to aggregate prepayment rates that are among the lowest in our peer group and which we believe act as a foundation for stable and predictable earnings ahead. Third quarter prepayments slowed relative to the speeds observed in the past year, providing a tailwind to earnings. ARR's portfolio averaged 12.8 CPR in the third quarter, below the 15.2 CPR from the previous quarter. We expect speeds to remain at similar levels in the fourth quarter. Our implied leverage of 6.7 times at the third quarter end, which includes TBAs, is 1.5 to two turns below our historical leverage loans. Our lower leverage provides us with dry powder to take advantage of future market opportunities.

Despite the Fed's five basis point hike to their overnight reverse repurchase rate in the second quarter, funding markets have remained at historic lows to ARMOUR's benefit. Overnight repo rates ranged between 13 and 18 basis points throughout the third quarter with an average of 16 basis points. To remove any potential risks around year-end funding and the debt ceiling increase, we've placed over 90% of our repo maturities out past the year-end. ARMOUR is active with 18 different repo counterparties, and approximately 48% of our principal borrowed is with our broker-dealer affiliate, BUCKLER Securities. As I've noted before, we set our dividend policy based on the medium-term outlook on our business. We continue to see our dividend level as appropriate.

With that, we'd be delighted to take questions.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And the first question comes from Christopher Nolan with Ladenburg Thalmann.

Christopher Nolan -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Hi. A couple of quick questions. Jim, was there any nonrecurring expenses or revenue items in the earnings?

James R. Mountain -- Chief Financial Officer and Secretary

I think that the -- from an expense perspective, the answer is no. From a revenue perspective, we did have one DUS bond prepaid that had some interest make-whole in that. And I'm looking at Mark and I think that was $2 million?

Mark Richard Gruber -- Chief Investments Officer

Yes.

Christopher Nolan -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Got you. And then in your comments, did you indicate that the ATM issuance was accretive to book value in the quarter?

James R. Mountain -- Chief Financial Officer and Secretary

Not in the quarter. If you look at the reconciliation in the press release, I think it was $0.01 dilutive for the quarter, and the comment that I made was year-to-date, it's $0.03 accretive.

Christopher Nolan -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Great. And then I guess just a general question in terms of the overall market outlook. I mean, I appreciate the color that you guys provided in terms of your macro view. Where do you see long rates going? I mean, they've sort of been moving up and down a bit. And do you have a particular perspective as to what you're expecting for the fourth quarter and into the first quarter on that?

Jeffrey J. Zimmer -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Vice Chairman

Good morning. It's Jeffrey. The rise in oil prices recently has caused the curve to flatten a little bit and that's taken some people by surprise. Internally, our year-end target for the 10-year note was 1.75% and we've touched that recently for a cup of coffee. If you have persistent inflation and a lot of it's exhibited itself in energy prices and commodity prices, it's flat or may stay around for a while before you have economic output increase again, with inflation slowing down a little bit. That being said, if the economy continued to perform well, you would expect the 10-year rates to be modestly higher. And the Fed will give us guidance on November three in terms of when they're going to do lift-off, which we think would not start until well after they stop taper. So we wouldn't expect lift-off until at least the fourth quarter of 2022.

That being said, the way we're hedged, our performance is going to be driven, in the medium term, certainly by what mortgage spreads do. And although everybody in the world expect mortgage spreads to widen a little bit and we do as well, when the Fed winds down, they'll be doing constant reinvestment of their paydowns. And when the Fed gets out of the markets, it brings in other participants who have decided not to participate into the market. And generally, as Scott said in his comments, the Fed's absorbing the worst of the worst of the mortgage deliverable product, OK, and the best stuff's out there for us to buy. And we talked earlier, obviously, about the fact that we're at least 1.5 turns underneath our leverage, which provides a lot of clean air to exceed our dividend rate. So anyway, the short answer is we did expect the 10-year to get up to 1.75% by 10-year. We have achieved that. The bull flattener due to the energy and the concerns around commodity prices, it was a surprise to some but it doesn't affect what we do long term. I hope that's helpful.

Christopher Nolan -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Great. Thank you. It helps, Jeff. Thank you.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] And the next question will come from Mikhail Goberman with JMP Securities.

Mikhail Goberman -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

Good morning, gentlemen, Thanks for taking my questions. Wondering how much spread widening you need to see to be able to increase leverage from this point where it is now, and also just a quick question on your outlook for prepay speeds going forward.

Jeffrey J. Zimmer -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Vice Chairman

Mark, why don't you address our prepay outlook because we have those in our models here for the rest of the quarter?

Mark Richard Gruber -- Chief Investments Officer

Yes. For the rest of the quarter, we don't really see really any increase in prepaid speeds. We would assume maybe flat to down just slightly. So for the rest of the -- basically, for the rest of the year.

Jeffrey J. Zimmer -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Vice Chairman

And so what we're waiting for, and maybe everybody is waiting for this, so we might not have spreads widen so much. Let's see what the Fed says on November 3. It's widely anticipated that they would start to taper, if not toward the end of November, starting in December. And if everybody is expecting that, it'd be hard to believe you're just going to get a big five or 10 basis point widener. But you get five OAS widener here, we'll start putting a little bit of money to work. And we're not here to pick the wides or what the next perfect opportunity is going to be. We do get paydowns every month. That gives us the ability to take advantage of wideners. If spreads tighten, we'll still have to go ahead and reinvest our paydowns. Does that answer what you're looking for?

Mikhail Goberman -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

Yes, that's helpful. Thank you very much.

Jeffrey J. Zimmer -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Vice Chairman

You're welcome.

Operator

[Operator closing remarks]

Duration: 17 minutes

Call participants:

James R. Mountain -- Chief Financial Officer and Secretary

Scott J. Ulm -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, Head of Risk Management and Co-Vice Chairman

Mark Richard Gruber -- Chief Investments Officer

Jeffrey J. Zimmer -- Co-Chief Executive Officer, President and Co-Vice Chairman

Christopher Nolan -- Ladenburg Thalmann -- Analyst

Mikhail Goberman -- JMP Securities -- Analyst

More ARR analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.