Addressing an analyst cadre somewhat uncomfortable with American Capital's (AGNC +1.6%) new policy of purchasing the common stock of its agency mREIT competitors (Wells' Joel Houck: Do you know their hedging strategies? What happens when one blows up?), CIO Gary Kain says the discounts to asset value are so great as to mitigate much of the risk.
Kain does acknowledge some risks though, and reminds that the purchase program is but a small slice of AGNC's overall portfolio ($400M of others' stock bought so far vs. nearly $600M of AGNC buybacks just in Q4).
For now, there won't be any disclosure of which names American Capital is buying - a position also not sitting well with those on the call. Should the positions get large enough though, regulatory filings might be required.
Kain also reminds that AGNC isn't just boosting risk with these purchases - instead it's selling MBS at 100 cents on the dollar to buy them back (via other mREITs) at somewhere in the area of 80 cents on the dollar.
Most of the mREIT sector (REM +0.7%) is ahead again today - Armour (ARR +0.9%), CYS (CYS +2.8%), Hatteras (HTS +1.6%), American Capital Mortgage (MTGE +0.6%), PennyMac (PMT +1.2%) - but Annaly (NLY -0.6%) lags, perhaps as investors feel it was far more conservatively positioned going into 2014 than AGNC was.
Earnings call is still ongoing