After spending much of 2009 at an underwhelming two-star rank, Chimera Investment (NYSE: CIM) has impressed enough top-performing members of our 160,000-strong Motley Fool CAPS community to climb all the way up to four stars. A total of 361 members have given their opinion on the residential mortgage-focused REIT, with many of them offering analysis and commentary explaining the recent optimism.

Chimera Investment is a spinoff of Annaly Capital Management (NYSE: NLY), which manages the company through a subsidiary. Despite its investments in residential mortgage-backed securities, which many see as high risk, the real estate investment trust has held up well during turbulent times, and many CAPS members see solid potential for the company going forward. The huge 16.5% dividend has many dividend investors taking a look at the stock, and many of the company's largest shareholders, including BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), loaded up on more shares during the fourth quarter.

The company recently announced a big jump in fourth-quarter earnings and said it's been busy buying a large number of deeply discounted securities. To take advantage of opportunities it's been seeing, Chimera recently announced that it was raising more than $300 million in cash via a secondary stock offering. Management has seen improvements in the securitization market since the financial crisis and has seen a pickup in demand for securities as well as new capital coming into its markets. Such changes are causing a shift in the mortgage REIT market.

For example, one California mortgage real estate investment trust, Redwood Trust (NYSE: RWT), said it plans to sell $222 million in securities backed by new loans made to customers of Citigroup. The "private label" deal -- one in which the securities aren't backed by government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae (NYSE: FNM) or Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) -- will be the first of its kind in two years. Some investors think more deals like this could help revive the mortgage-backed securities market and lead to lower mortgage rates, even though the Federal Reserve recently stopped its massive purchase of mortgage-backed securities. While there's still plenty of fear and uncertainty in the mortgage market, some CAPS members see any hint of a return to normal as a positive for Chimera's business.

Do you think Chimera Investment deserves its raised status? Add your thoughts in the comments box below on this page, or head over to CAPS to rate the company and check out all the information and opinions the community offers, absolutely free.

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