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Why Ocwen Financial Corp. Shares Jumped Today

By Jordan Wathen – May 1, 2015 at 11:28AM

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Here's why Ocwen Financial Corp. shares roared more than 20% higher today.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Ocwen Financial Corp. (OCN -0.42%) are trading up by 20% to $10.15 per share on the back of stronger-than-expected estimated earnings. Separately, analysts at Sterne Agee upgraded the stock to a "buy" from "neutral," raising their price target to $12 from $10 per share.

So what: The mortgage servicer reported estimated earnings of $34.4 million, or $0.27 per share. That was a steep 43% decline from $0.43 per share in the first quarter of last year on a 7% decline in revenue.

The company currently reports its results as estimated earnings because its auditors have raised questions about its ability to stay in business. On the conference call, Ocwen CEO Ronald Farris explained that the opinion of its auditors shouldn't have a significant impact on its business as an operating company. Importantly, it would not cause any breach of its financial covenants. Farris stated, "a going concern explanatory paragraph, if that were to be the result, will not cause a default under any of our debt agreements."

In addition, Farris noted that Ocwen expected to file audited financial statements for 2014 "by May 29, if not sooner."

Earlier in April, Ocwen estimated a loss of $546 million for the full year of 2014, or $4.18 per share. The losses stemmed from writedowns on its mortgage servicing rights and charges for legal costs it expects for a number of legal challenges about its mortgage servicing practices.

Now what: Shareholders see its first-quarter profitability as evidence of a turnaround. The company is optimistic that it has adequately accounted for announced settlements and that it is "not aware of, or anticipating, any fines, penalties, or settlements from any state agencies that would have a material financial impact."

The company anticipates selling assets and using the funds to deleverage. Eventually, it hopes that excess cash can be returned to shareholders through a buyback, though that would be several quarters, if not years, down the line. 

Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Ocwen Financial. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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