Monday, October 29, 2007

Countrywide’s quarterly results and promises

The mortgage lender we all love to watch and criticize reported its financial results on Friday. Losses were big, but not as bad as expected, so the stock price went up immediately. A loss of $1.2 billion, which equals $2,85 per share, for the 3rd quarter, down from $647.6 million on the positive a year ago, and shares still went up 30%. Origination volume shrank, probably due to better lending standards, which should result in higher-quality loans, and loan-loss reserves were increased significantly, to $934 million, from $38 million a year earlier. So what we can see is a better long-term outlook, if the company survives the current turmoil. This is the first time Countrywide reports a quarterly loss in 25 years, and the market isn’t showing signs of improvement, so there’s a chance the next one will be just as bad.

What helped stock prices was Countrywide’s forecast for future performance. David Sambol, the mortgage lender’s President, said the 3rd quarter was an “earnings trough” and things can only get better from now on. The management believes Countrywide will turn a profit of 25 to 75 cents per share in the fourth quarter and, according to Angelo Mozilo, continues “to be bullish about the longterm prospects of both Countrywide and our industry”. 3 months to go.

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