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American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ:AGNC) announced a share buyback program today, and it comes on the heels of a similar announcement a week or two ago by Annaly Capital Management (NYSE:NLY). While we are waiting for NLY's quarterly results, we can use the AGNC earnings announcement to do some calculations to see the underlying strategy.

The AGNC earnings announcement is linked here, and the share buyback announcement is linked here. The NLY Share Buyback announcement is linked here.

Since we have the most recent quarterly data on AGNC, we can estimate it first: The share buyback will be $500M, and will be done when the selling price of the stock is less than book value, which it is at the moment. This will have the added effect of supporting the stock price at or about the book value per share.

At the current dividend rate of $1.25 per share per quarter, and using the most current figures from the earnings announcement on leverage and interest rate spread, the calculation of the effects of this buyback is as follows:

Share Repurchase$500,000,000
Approx Share Repurchase Price$32.49
Shares to be Repurchased15,389,351
Dividend Per Share/Quarter$1.25
Reduced Dividend/Quarter$19,236,688
Reduced Dividend/Annualized$76,946,753
Reduced Portfolio$3,500,000,000
Current Interest Spread1.42%
Reduced Interest Income$49,700,000.00
Net Benefit of Buyback$27,246,753

At the current dividend rate of $1.25 per share, the share buyback will result in a reduced dividend payout of $76M per year, and with the most recently announced interest rate spread of 1.42%, the reduction in portfolio will reduce AGNC's interest income by about $50M, so the net benefit of the share buyback will be around $27M.

Since NLY has not revealed its quarterly data yet, we will have to make estimates based on last quarter, but here is the calculation:

Share Repurchase$1,500,000,000
Est Share Repurchase Price$16.00
Shares to be Repurchased93,750,000
Dividend Per Share/Quarter$0.50
Reduced Dividend/Quarter$46,875,000
Reduced Dividend/Annualized$187,500,000
Est. Leverage6
Reduced Portfolio$9,000,000,000
Est. Current Interest Spread1.30%
Reduced Interest Income$117,000,000
Net Benefit of Buyback$70,500,000

Based on expectation of NLY's lower leverage, and also smaller interest rate spread, the net benefit of the share buyback will be on the order of $75M over the course of the year. NLY's share buyback will take place over the next 12 months, and will probably also be used to support the share price at some level approximating the book value.

Both of these announcements reflect what we already know about the mREIT industry: The interest rate spreads are continuing to decline. The AGNC interest rate spread dropped from 1.65% to 1.42%, and on that basis we would expect NLY to come in at around 1.30%. These two companies cannot make money by doing share issuances, like they have for most of the last two years, and instead, will turn to lower cost sources of money, such as preferred stock, to raise capital if needed.

The good news on this is that both of these companies have an opportunity to support the price of their stocks.

The question of the day is, whether an investor will be better off with a shrinking common stock dividend and a shrinking share price, or a lower dividend and stable share price (the Preferred Stock option).

As we wait for NLY's earnings announcement to confirm our above estimates, that question will be worth considering again.

Keep in mind that the world is full of chaos, and there are no guarantees on anything.

Disclosure: I am long AGNC. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.