Wednesday, September 5, 2007

NovaStar makes the news

NovaStar was one of the first lenders to get hit by the subprime meltdown, but it hasn’t stopped making the headlines ever since stock prices started freefalling in February. The big news this time is that its auditor, Deloitte & Touche, warns the lender may be unable to continue operating as a going concern – i.e., it may have to close down, soon, joining the ranks of more than 100 mortgage lenders that imploded this year, no big surprise. In fact, NovaStar has done really well surviving this far.

NovaStar canceled a $101 million stock offering, because it figured that, given the current market conditions and its stock price, the offering wouldn’t be in the shareholders’ best interest. Christopher Brendler, an analyst at Stifel Nicolaus said NovaStar is “having trouble with cash flows”. Another analyst - Friedman, Billings, Ramsey‘s Scott Valentin - said NovaStar will probably have to liquidate with the proceeds “being used to pay creditors”, leaving nothing to common equity holders. The lender announced that it will be cutting 275 jobs and closing 12 retail lending offices, leaving it with a staff of 600 or so. At the end of last year, NovaStar employed more than 2,000 people. The company announced that it will be modifying its business model and focusing on managing its portfolio of securitized loans. NovaStar shares dropped 16% to $7.16 on the news.

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