Shares of mortgage real estate investment trust (REIT) Granite Point Mortgage Trust (NYSE:GPMT) jumped nearly 17% at the open of trading on Sept. 29. By 10 a.m. EDT, the shares had given back much of that gain but were still holding onto a roughly 10% advance. It was Granite Point's news release after the close on Monday that got investors excited.
There were two parts to that press release. One was basic business information, most of which was very positive. The highlight was that more than 99% of the REIT's borrowers paid on time in August and September. Other facts noted were that the company had cash of $357 million; it had secured a $300 million, five-year term loan facility (of which it has already drawn $225 million, perhaps turning this item into something of a mix of a positive and a negative); and it had funded roughly $52 million on existing loan commitments while also receiving $185 million worth of repayments in the third quarter. All well and good, but not really enough to lead to such a large spike in the stock price.
The bigger update was that Granite Point is reinstating a dividend after suspending it earlier in the year. The $0.20 per-share quarterly payment will be the first dividend the REIT pays in 2020. Although that dividend level represents a roughly 50% cut from the previous payment, the fact that the board has brought the dividend back at all is a statement that the worst may be over for Granite Point. And since REITs are specifically designed to pass income on to investors via regular dividend payments, this is a pretty big deal. It's understandable that Wall Street got excited here.
Mortgage REITs are a bit more complex than their typical property-owning cousins. They are not the type of investment you should set and forget, and conservative investors should think carefully before buying them. That said, Granite Point's dividend update is undeniably good news, even though management also made sure to add the caveat that COVID-19 remains a destabilizing economic event.