A nice backup in rates (the 10-year Treasury yield is off 4 bps to 2.75%) is of no help to the mortgage REITs (REM -0.3%), with sector kingpins Annaly (NLY -1.4%) and American Capital Agency (AGNC -1.2%) both hunkered down (NLY earnings call, AGNC earnings call) for the Fed taper, and both hitting 52-week lows today.
Earlier this week, AGNC and MTGE CIO Gary Kain took his case all the way to Asia at the Citi financial services conference in Hong Kong (transcript). Yes, book value has been hit by higher rates, but also by how much the market is willing to pay for it. Whereas AGNC traded at an average of 110%-120% of book over the past 4-5 years, it's now at sub-90%.
Discounts can last for awhile, he admits, but also reminds this isn't some opaque bank balance sheet, but instead an easily valued, highly liquid portfolio of assets trading at $0.85-$0.90 on the dollar. As long as it persists, American Capital will continue selling MBS for $1 and buying back stock at a discount.
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