When agency mREITs trade at discounts to book value, it's a lot different than a bank or insurance company trading at a discount, says American Capital Agency (AGNC +1.6%) CIO Gary Kain, speaking at the BofA financial services conference (transcript) (slides). Why? Because the assets held at an agency REIT are fairly easy to mark, and they're easy/liquid to trade. The benefit of selling mortgages and buying back stock is pretty clear.
"We stressed on our call that we ... clearly believe that we should be buying back stock in an environment such as this and taking advantage of the liquidity of our assets ... We will continue to pay a lot of attention to the ability to monetize price to book discount," not just at AGNC, but at American Capital Mortgage (MTGE +0.5%).