SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
|☒|| ||ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
For the transition period from to
|☐|| ||TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934|Commission File Number: 001-35543
WESTERN ASSET MORTGAGE CAPITAL CORPORATION
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
Western Asset Mortgage Capital Corporation
385 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, California 91101
(Address of principal executive offices)
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
|Title of Each Class|| Trading Symbol(s)||Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered|
|Common Stock, $0.01 par value|| WMC||New York Stock Exchange|
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes ☐ No ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☒ No ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
|Large accelerated filer ||☐|| ||Accelerated filer||☒|
|Non-accelerated filer ||☐|| ||Smaller reporting company||☐|
|Emerging growth company||☐|
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report. ☒
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ☐ No ☒
The aggregate market value of the registrant's common stock held by non-affiliates was $157,840,509 based on the closing sales price on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2020.
On March 3, 2021, the registrant had a total of 60,812,701 shares of common stock outstanding.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Company makes forward-looking statements herein and will make forward-looking statements in future filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), press releases or other written or oral communications within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). For these statements, the Company claims the protections of the safe harbor for forward-looking statements contained in such sections. Forward-looking statements are subject to substantial risks and uncertainties, many of which are difficult to predict and are generally beyond the Company’s control. In particular, it is difficult to fully assess the impact of COVID-19 at this time due to, among other factors, uncertainty regarding the severity and duration of the outbreak domestically and internationally and the effectiveness of federal, state and local governments’ efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and respond to its direct and indirect impact on the U.S. economy and economic activity.
These forward-looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of the Company’s business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, plans and objectives. When the Company uses the words “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “plan,” “continue,” “intend,” “should,” “may” or similar expressions, the Company intends to identify forward-looking statements. Statements regarding the following subjects, among others, may be forward-looking: market trends in the Company’s industry, interest rates, real estate values, the debt securities markets, the U.S. housing and the U.S. and foreign commercial real estate markets or the general economy or the market for residential and/or commercial mortgage loans; the Company’s business and investment strategy; the Company’s projected operating results; changes in interest rates and the market value of the Company's target assets; credit risks; servicing -related risks, including those associated with foreclosure and liquidation; the state of the U.S. and to a lesser extent, international economy generally or in specific geographic regions; economic trends and economic recoveries; the Company’s ability to obtain and maintain financing arrangements, including under the Company's repurchase agreements, a form of secured financing, and securitizations; the current potential return dynamics available in residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”), and commercial mortgage-backed securities (“CMBS” and collectively with RMBS, “MBS”); the level of government involvement in the U.S. mortgage market; the anticipated default rates on CMBS and Commercial Loans; the loss severity on Non-Agency MBS the general volatility of the securities markets in which the Company participates; changes in the value of the Company’s assets; the Company’s expected portfolio of assets; the Company’s expected investment and underwriting process; interest rate mismatches between the Company’s target assets and any borrowings used to fund such assets; changes in prepayment rates on the Company’s target assets; effects of hedging instruments on the Company’s target assets; rates of default or decreased recovery rates on the Company’s target assets; the degree to which the Company’s hedging strategies may or may not protect the Company from interest rate volatility; the impact of and changes in governmental regulations, tax law and rates, accounting guidance and similar matters; the Company’s ability to maintain the Company’s qualification as a real estate investment trust for U.S. federal income tax purposes; the Company’s ability to maintain its exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”); the availability of opportunities to acquire Agency RMBS, Non-Agency RMBS, CMBS, Residential and Commercial Whole Loans, Residential and Commercial Bridge Loans and other mortgage assets; the availability of qualified personnel; estimates relating to the Company’s ability to make distributions to its stockholders in the future; the Company’s understanding of its competition; and the uncertainty and economic impact of pandemics, epidemics or other public health emergencies, such as the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
The forward-looking statements are based on the Company's beliefs, assumptions and expectations of its future performance, taking into account all information currently available to it. Forward-looking statements are not predictions of future events. These beliefs, assumptions and expectations can change as a result of many possible events or factors, not all of which are known to the Company. Some of these factors, are described in "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" of this annual report on Form 10-K. These and other risks, uncertainties and factors, including those described in the annual, quarterly and current reports that the Company files with the SEC, could cause its actual results to differ materially from those included in any forward-looking statements the Company makes. All forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. New risks and uncertainties arise over time and it is not possible to predict those events or how they may affect the Company. Except as required by law, the Company is not obligated to, and does not intend to, update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Item 1. Business
Western Asset Mortgage Capital Corporation, a Delaware corporation, and Subsidiaries (the “Company” unless otherwise indicated or except where the context otherwise requires “we,” “us” or “our”) commenced operations in May 2012, focused on investing in, financing and managing a diversified portfolio of real estate related securities, whole loans and other financial assets, which we collectively refer to as our target assets. We are externally managed by Western Asset Management Company, LLC (our “Manager”) pursuant to the terms of a management agreement. We conduct our operations to qualify and be taxed as a real estate investment trust, or REIT, for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Accordingly, we generally will not be subject to U.S. federal income taxes on our taxable income that we distribute currently to our stockholders as long as we maintain our intended qualification as a REIT. However, certain activities that we may perform may cause us to earn income which will not be qualifying income for REIT purposes. We have designated a subsidiary as a taxable REIT subsidiary, or TRS, to engage in such activities. We also intend to operate our business in a manner that permits us to maintain our exemption from registration under the 1940 Act, as amended, or the Investment Company Act. Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange, or the NYSE, under the symbol "WMC."
Our objective is to provide attractive risk adjusted returns to our stockholders primarily through an attractive dividend, which we intend to support with sustainable core earnings, as well as the potential for higher returns through capital appreciation. Our investment strategy is based on our Manager's perspective of which mix of our target assets it believes provides us with the best risk-reward opportunities at any given time. We also deploy leverage as part of our investment strategy to increase potential returns.
We are externally managed and advised by our Manager, an SEC-registered investment advisor and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Franklin Resources, Inc. (“Franklin”), headquartered in Pasadena, California, that specializes in fixed-income asset management. From offices in Pasadena, Hong Kong, London, Melbourne, New York, São Paulo, Singapore, Tokyo and Zurich, our Manager's 804 employees provide investment services for a wide variety of global clients, including mutual funds, corporate, public, insurance, health care, union organizations and charitable foundations. In addition, two of our directors, James W. Hirschmann III and Jennifer W. Murphy, are also employees of our Manager. Our Manager is responsible for, among other duties: (i) performing all of our day-to-day functions; (ii) determining investment criteria in conjunction with our Board of Directors; (iii) sourcing, analyzing and executing investments, asset sales and financings; (iv) performing asset management duties; and (v) performing financial and accounting management.
Our Competitive Advantages
Our competitive advantages in the marketplace stems from our relationship with our Manager. As of December 31, 2020, our Manager had approximately $484.5 billion in assets under management. Our Manager's scale makes it an important trading partner for many of the largest broker-dealers and banks, which provides our investment team the ability to source real estate related opportunities directly from originators as well as access attractive financing.
Our Investment Strategy
Our Manager’s investment philosophy, which developed from a singular focus in fixed-income asset management over a variety of credit cycles and conditions, is to provide clients with a diversified, long-term value-oriented portfolio. We benefit from the breadth and depth of our Manager’s overall investment philosophy, which focuses on a macroeconomic analysis as well as an in-depth analysis of individual assets and their relative value. In making investment decisions on our behalf, our Manager seeks to identify assets across the broad mortgage universe with attractive risk adjusted returns, which incorporates its view on the outlook for the mortgage markets, including relative valuation, supply and demand trends, the level of interest rates, the shape of the yield curve, prepayment rates, financing and liquidity, commercial and residential real estate prices, delinquencies, default rates, recovery of various segments of the economy and vintage of collateral, subject to maintaining our REIT qualification and our exemption from registration under the 1940 Act.
Our Target Assets
Residential Whole Loans. — Residential Whole Loans are mortgages secured by single family residences held directly by us or through consolidated trusts with us holding the beneficial interest in the trusts. Our Residential Whole Loans are mainly adjustable rate mortgages that do not qualify for the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s (or CFPB) safe harbor
provision for “qualified mortgages” ("Non QM" mortgages). Our Manager’s review, relating to Non QM mortgages, includes an analysis of the loan originator’s procedures and documentation for compliance with Ability to Repay requirements. As discussed in Note 7 "Financing," we have and may continue to securitize whole loan interests, selling more senior interests in the pool of loans and retaining residual portions. The characteristics of our Residential Whole Loans may vary going forward.
Commercial Whole Loans. — Commercial Whole Loans are generally loans ranging from $5 million to $125 million, secured by commercial real estate typically short-term loans. The collateral types may include hospitality, senior care living facilities, multifamily, office retail and industrial properties. These loans may be held directly by us or through consolidated trusts with us holding the beneficial interest in the trust.
Commercial Mezzanine Loans. — Commercial mezzanine loans are generally structured to represent a senior position in the borrower’s equity in, and subordinate to a first mortgage loan, on a property. These loans are generally secured by pledges of ownership interests, in whole or in part, in entities that directly or indirectly own the real property. At times, mezzanine loans may be secured by additional collateral, including letters of credit, personal guarantees, or collateral unrelated to the property. Mezzanine loans may be structured to carry either fixed or floating interest rates as well as carry a right to participate in a percentage of gross revenues and a percentage of the increase in the fair market value of the property securing the loan. Mezzanine loans may also contain prepayment lockouts, penalties, minimum profit hurdles and other mechanisms to protect and enhance returns to the lender. Mezzanine loans usually have maturities that match the maturity of the related mortgage loan but may have shorter or longer terms. Depending on the structure of a transaction, Commercial Mezzanine loans may or may not qualify as "qualifying real estate interests" for purposes of the 1940 Act.
Non-Agency RMBS. — RMBS that are not guaranteed by a U.S. Government agency or U.S. Government-sponsored entity. The mortgage loan collateral for Non-Agency RMBS consists of residential mortgage loans that do not generally conform to underwriting guidelines issued by a U.S. Government agency or U.S. Government-sponsored entity due to certain factors, including mortgage balances in excess of Agency underwriting guidelines, borrower characteristics, loan characteristics and/or level of documentation, and therefore are not issued or guaranteed by a U.S. Government agency or U.S. Government-sponsored entity. The mortgage loan collateral may be classified as subprime, Alternative-A or prime depending on the borrower’s credit rating and the underlying level of documentation. Non-Agency RMBS collateral may also include reperforming loans, which are conventional mortgage loans that were current at the time of the securitization, but had been delinquent in the past. Non-Agency RMBS may be secured by fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages or hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages.
Non-Agency CMBS. — Fixed and floating rate CMBS for which the principal and interest payments are not guaranteed by a U.S. Government agency or U.S. Government-sponsored entity. We do not have an established minimum current rating requirement for such investments.
Agency CMBS. — Fixed and floating rate CMBS, for which the principal and interest payments are guaranteed by a U.S. Government agency or U.S. Government-sponsored entity, but for which the underlying mortgage loans are secured by real property other than single family residences. These may include, but are not limited to Fannie Mae DUS (Delegated Underwriting and Servicing) MBS, Freddie Mac Multifamily Mortgage Participation Certificates, Ginnie Mae project loan pools, and/or CMOs structured from such collateral. These securities generally have prepayment protection in the form of defeasance, yield maintenance or points.
Agency RMBS. — Agency RMBS, which are RMBS for which the principal and interest payments are guaranteed by a U.S. Government agency, such as the Government National Mortgage Association (“GNMA” or “Ginnie Mae”), or a U.S. Government-sponsored entity ("GSE"), such as the Federal National Mortgage Association (“FNMA” or “Fannie Mae”) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“FHLMC” or “Freddie Mac”). The Agency RMBS we acquire can be secured by fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages or hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages. Fixed-rate mortgages have interest rates that are fixed for the term of the loan and do not adjust. The interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages generally adjust annually (although some may adjust more frequently) to an increment over a specified interest rate index. Hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages have interest rates that are fixed for a specified period of time (typically three, five, seven or ten years) and, thereafter, adjust to an increment over a specified interest rate index. Adjustable-rate mortgages and hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages generally have periodic and lifetime constraints on the amount by which the loan interest rate can change on any predetermined interest rate reset date. These investments can be in the form of pools, TBA and CMO (including interest only, principal only or other structures).
GSE Risk Sharing Securities Issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. — From time to time we have and may in the future continue to invest in risk sharing securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Principal and interest payments on these securities are based on the performance of a specified pool of Agency residential mortgages. The payments due on these securities, however, are not secured by the referenced mortgages. The payments due are full faith and credit obligations of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac respectively, but neither agency guarantees full payment of the underlying mortgages. Investments in these securities generally are not qualifying assets for purposes of the 75% real estate asset test applicable to REITs and generally do not generate qualifying income for purposes of the 75% real estate income test applicable to REITs. As a result, we may be limited in our ability to invest in such assets.
Other investments. — In addition to MBS, our principal investment, and ABS from time to time, we may also make other investments in securities, which our Manager believes will assist us in meeting our investment objective and are consistent with our overall investment policies. These investments will normally be limited by the REIT requirements that 75% our assets be real estate assets and that 75% of our income be generated from real estate, thereby limiting our ability to invest in such assets.
Our Investment Portfolio
Our investment portfolio composition at December 31, 2020.
Our Financing Strategy
During 2020, the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic made it challenging to obtain financing arrangements on favorable terms, including our repurchase agreements, term financings, and securitizations. In the fourth quarter of 2020, terms for financing arrangements improved significantly. We have primarily financed our investment acquisitions with repurchase agreements. We believe the amount of leverage we use is consistent with our intention of keeping total borrowings within a prudent range, as determined by our Manager, taking into account a variety of factors, which a variety of factors, such as, general economic, political and financial market conditions, the anticipated liquidity and price volatility of our assets, the availability and cost of financing the assets, the creditworthiness of financing counterparties and the health of the U.S. residential and commercial mortgage markets. In utilizing leverage, we seek to enhance equity returns while limiting our exposure to interest rate volatility and daily margin calls. We expect to continue to seek financing arrangements without daily
margin requirements or with margin requirements which apply only after a significant reduction in the valuation of the assets financed, , including but not limited to term financing, securitization and convertible senior unsecured notes, as market permit. We are not required to maintain any particular leverage ratio. We expect to maintain a debt-to-equity ratio of two to five times the amount of our stockholders’ equity, depending on our investment composition.
Our repurchase agreements bear interest at a contractually agreed-upon rate and historically had terms ranging from one month to 18 months. Under these repurchase agreements, the respective counterparties retain the right to determine the fair value of the underlying collateral. A reduction in the value of pledged assets may require us to post additional securities as collateral, pay down borrowings or establish cash margin accounts with the counterparties in order to re-establish the agreed-upon advance rates. Our inability to post adequate collateral for a margin call by a counterparty, in a timeframe as short as the close of the same business day, could result in a condition of default under our repurchase agreements, thereby enabling the counterparty to liquidate the collateral pledged by us, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flows.
Our repurchase agreement counterparties generally require collateral in excess of the loan amount, or haircuts. As of December 31, 2020, the ranges of the haircuts on our investments were as follow:
|Minimum||Maximum (excluding IOs and IIOs)||Maximum (including IOs and IIOs)|
Residential Whole Loans(1)
(1) Includes Residential Bridge Loans.
(2) Includes Securitized commercial loans.
Our Hedging and Risk Management Strategy
Our overall portfolio strategy is designed to generate attractive returns to our investors through various economic cycles. We believe our broad approach to investing in the real estate mortgage markets, which considers all categories of real estate assets, allows us to invest in a diversified portfolio and help mitigate our portfolio from risks that arise from investing in a single or limited collateral type. In connection with our risk management activities, we may enter into a variety of derivative and non-derivative instruments. When purchased, our primary objective for acquiring these derivatives and non-derivative instruments is to mitigate our exposure to future events that are outside our control. Our derivative instruments are designed to mitigate the effects of market risk and cash flow volatility associated with interest rate risk, including prepayment risk. As part of our hedging strategy, we may enter into interest rate swaps, including forward starting swaps, interest rate swaptions, U.S. Treasury options, future contracts, TBAs, credit default swaps, and forwards and other similar instruments. There can be no assurance that appropriate hedging strategies will be available or that if implemented they will be successful.
We elected to be taxed as a REIT under Section 856 through 860 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the "Code"), commencing with our taxable year ended December 31, 2012. We will generally not be subject to corporate U.S. federal income tax to the extent that we make qualifying distributions to stockholders, and provided that we satisfy, on a continuing basis, through actual investment and operating results, the REIT requirements including certain asset, income, distribution and stock ownership tests. If we fail to qualify as a REIT, and do not qualify for certain statutory relief provisions, we will be subject to U.S. federal, state and local income taxes and may be precluded from qualifying as a REIT for the subsequent four taxable years following the year in which we lost our REIT qualification. The failure to qualify as a REIT could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and amounts available for distribution to stockholders.
Investment Company Act Exemption
We conduct our operations so that we are not considered an investment company under the 1940 Act in reliance on the exemption provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the 1940 Act. Section 3(c)(5)(C), as interpreted by the staff of the SEC, requires that: (i) at least 55% of our investment portfolio consist of "mortgages and other liens on and interest in real estate," or "qualifying real estate interests," and (ii) at least 80% of our investment portfolio consist of qualifying real estate interests plus "real estate-related assets." We have relied and intend to continue to rely on current interpretations of the staff of the SEC in an effort to continue to qualify for an exemption from registration under the 1940 Act. For more information on the exemptions that we utilize refer to Item 1A, "Risk Factors" of this annual report on Form 10-K.
Our net income depends, in part, on our ability to acquire assets at favorable spreads over our borrowing costs. In acquiring our target assets, we compete with other REITs, specialty finance companies, savings and loan associations, banks, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, mutual funds, institutional investors, investment banking firms, financial institutions, governmental bodies and other entities. In addition, other REITs with similar asset acquisition objectives, including a number that have been recently formed and others that may be organized in the future, compete with us in acquiring assets and obtaining financing. These competitors may be significantly larger than us, may have access to greater capital and other resources or may have other advantages. In addition, some competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments, and establish more relationships, than us. Current market conditions may attract more competitors, which may increase the competition for sources of financing. An increase in the competition for sources of funding could adversely affect the availability and cost of financing, and thereby adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
We are not aware of any federal, state or local environmental laws or regulations that will materially affect our earnings or statement of position or result in material capital expenditures.
Employees and Human Capital
We have no employees. We are externally managed pursuant to the management agreement dated May 9, 2012. All of our officers and two of our directors, James W. Hirschmann III and Jennifer W. Murphy, are employees of our Manager. We benefit from our Manager's global infrastructure and operating platform, through which we are able to source, evaluate and manage potential investments in our target assets. Our Manager strides to create a diverse and inclusive workforce in operating its business.
Corporate Governance and Internet Address
We emphasize the importance of professional business conduct and ethics through our corporate governance initiatives. The Board has appointed a lead independent director to enhance governance Currently five of seven directors are independent directors so that our Board of Directors consists of more than two-thirds independent directors. The audit, nominating and corporate governance, risk, and compensation committees of our Board of Directors are composed entirely of independent directors. We have adopted corporate governance guidelines and a code of business conduct and ethics, which delineate our standards for our officers and directors.
Our internet address is www.westernassetmcc.com. The information on our website is not incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We make available, free of charge through a link on our site, our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, and amendments to such reports, if any, as filed or furnished with the SEC, as soon as reasonably practicable after such filing or furnishing. Our site also contains our code of business conduct and ethics, corporate governance guidelines and the charters of our audit committee, nominating and corporate governance committee and compensation committee of our Board of Directors. Within the time period required by the rules of the SEC and the New York Stock Exchange, or NYSE, we will post on our website any amendment to our code of business conduct and ethics as defined in the code. Our documents filed with, or furnished to, the SEC are also available for review on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Our business and operations are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, the occurrence of which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to make distributions to stockholders and could cause the value of our capital stock to decline.
RISK FACTOR SUMMARY
Risks related to our business
•The COVID-19 pandemic and measures intended to prevent its spread have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.
•We may not be unable to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.
•Increases in interest rates could adversely affect the value of our investments and cause our interest expense to increase.
•Changes to, or the elimination of, LIBOR may adversely affect interest expense related to our loans and investments.
Risks related to our investing strategy
•Market and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more difficult for us to determine the fair value of our investments.
•Our investments in Non-Agency MBS, Residential Whole Loans, Commercial Loans and Residential Bridge Loans involve credit risks, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
•A lack of liquidity in our investments may adversely affect our business.
•Our investments in Residential Whole Loans, Residential Bridge Loans and Commercial Loans subject us to servicing-related risks, including those associated with foreclosure and liquidation.
•The commercial mortgage loans underlying the CMBS and our Commercial Loans we may acquire are subject to risks, which could result in losses to us.
•If our Manager overestimates the loss-adjusted yields of our CMBS investments, we may experience losses.
•If we do not control the special servicing of the mortgage loans included in the CMBS in which we invest and, in such cases, the special servicer may take actions that could adversely affect our interests.
•Our investments are recorded at fair value, and quoted prices or observable inputs may not be available to determine such value, resulting in the use of significant unobservable inputs to determine value.
•We may be adversely effected by declines in value of the assets in which we invest.
•Interest rate mismatches between our RMBS and Whole Loans backed by ARMs or hybrid ARMs and our borrowings used to fund our purchases of these assets may cause us to suffer losses.
•Prepayment may adversely affect our profitability.
•Geographic concentration of the properties securing the mortgage loans underlying our investments exposes us to risk.
•We may make investments in non U.S. dollar denominated securities, which will be subject to currency rate exposure and risks associated with the uncertainty of foreign laws and markets.
Risks related to financing and hedging
•We may be unable to access funding on advantageous terms, if at all in light of ongoing market dislocations resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
•Our strategy to address interest rate risk may not be effective and could result in future realized losses.
•Our strategy involves significant leverage, which may amplify losses.
•Our Manager may not be able to prevent mismatches in the maturities of our assets and liabilities.
•We may be subject to margin calls under our master repurchase agreements.
•We may lose money on our repurchase transactions.
•If a counterparty to one of our swap agreements or TBAs defaults on its obligations, we may incur losses.
•We may fail to procure adequate repurchase agreement financing or to renew or replace repurchase agreement financing.
•Our repurchase agreement financing may require additional collateral or restrict us from leveraging our assets.
•An increase in our borrowing costs relative to the interest that we receive on our portfolio investments may adversely affect our profitability and cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
•Our inability to finance, refinance and securitize our investments in Residential and Commercial Whole Loans could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and earnings and limit the cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
Risks associated with our relationship with our Manager
•Our Manager has been granted broad investment authority.
•There are conflicts of interest in our relationship with our Manager and the Management Agreement with our Manager was not negotiated on an arm's-length basis and may be costly and difficult to terminate.
•We are dependent on our Manager and its key personnel for our success.
•Our Manager's management fee is payable regardless of our performance.
Risks related to our common stock
•We may pay taxable dividends in our common stock and cash, in which case stockholders may sell shares of our common stock to pay tax on such dividends, placing downward pressure on the market price of our common stock.
•The market price and trading volume of our common stock may vary substantially.
•Common stock eligible for future sale may have adverse effects on our share price.
•We have no minimum distribution payment level and cannot assure you of our ability to pay distributions in the future.
•Conversion of our convertible senior unsecured notes may dilute the ownership interest of existing stockholders.
Risks related to our organization and structure
•Ownership limitations may restrict change of control or business combination opportunities in which our stockholders might receive a premium for their shares.
•Provisions in our organizational documents and Delaware law may prevent or hinder a change in control and adversely affecting the market price of our common stock.
Risks Related to REIT Status
•We may fail to remain qualified as a REIT, incurring substantial tax liability.
•Dividends payable by REITs do not qualify for the reduced tax rates available for some dividends.
•REIT distribution requirements could adversely affect our ability to execute our business plan.
•Complying with REIT requirements may cause us to liquidate or forgo otherwise attractive opportunities.
•Our reported taxable income for certain investments may exceed the economic income we ultimately realize.
•Certain apportionment rules may affect our ability to comply with the REIT asset and gross income tests.
•The "taxable mortgage pool" rules may increase the taxes that we or our stockholders may incur, and may limit the manner in which we effect future securitizations.
•Our ability to invest in and dispose of "to be announced" securities could be limited by our REIT status.
•Securities subject to our repurchase agreements may not qualify as real estate assets, adversely affecting our REIT status.
•Liquidation of assets may jeopardize our REIT qualification or create additional tax liability for us.
•Complying with REIT requirements may limit our ability to hedge effectively and may cause us to incur tax liabilities.
•Qualifying as a REIT involves highly technical and complex provisions of the Code.
Risks related to our business
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures intended to prevent its spread have had and may continue to have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, liquidity and financial condition.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant disruptions to the U.S. and global economies and has contributed to volatility and negative pressure in financial markets. The outbreak has led governments and other authorities around the world to impose measures intended to control its spread, including restrictions on freedom of movement and business operations such as travel bans, border closings, business closures, quarantines and shelter-in-place orders. The actual and potential impact and duration of COVID-19 or another pandemic have and are expected to continue to have significant repercussions across regional, national and global economies and financial markets, and have triggered a period of regional, national and global economic slowdown and may trigger a longer term recession. The impact of the pandemic and measures to prevent its spread have negatively impacted us and could further negatively impact our business. To the extent current conditions persist or worsen, we expect there to be a materially negative effect on the value of our assets and our results of operations, and, in turn, cash available for distribution to our stockholders. Moreover, many risk factors set forth in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020 should be interpreted as heightened risks as a result of the ongoing and numerous adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our commercial mortgages collateralized by hotels, retail properties are disproportionately impacted by the effects of COVID-19. We expect over the near- and long-term that the economic impacts of the pandemic will impact the financial stability of these borrowers As a result, some of our borrowers experienced financial hardship, making it difficult to meet their payment obligations to us, leading to requests for forbearance and elevated levels of delinquency and default, which will have an adverse effect on our business, the value of these assets and our results of operations and financial condition. Future outbreaks involving other highly infectious or contagious diseases could have similar adverse effects.
We are subject to risks related to residential mortgages. Over the near and long term, the economic and market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to adversely impact the financial condition of borrowers underlying our residential mortgage loan investments, As a result, we anticipate that the number of borrowers who become delinquent or default on their loans may increase significantly. Such increased levels of payment delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, or losses would adversely affect our business, the value of these assets, results of operations and financial position. Future outbreaks involving other highly infectious or contagious diseases could have similar adverse effects.
In response to the pandemic, the U.S. government has taken various actions to support the economy and the continued functioning of the financial markets. The Federal Reserve has announced its commitment to purchase unlimited amounts of U.S. Treasuries, mortgage-backed securities, municipal bonds and other assets. In addition, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, has and is expected to provide billions of dollars of relief to individuals, businesses, state and local governments, and the health care system suffering the impact of the pandemic, including mortgage loan forbearance and modification programs to qualifying borrowers who have difficulty making their loan payments. There can be no assurance as to how, in the long term, actions by the U.S. government intended to counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the CARES Act, will affect the efficiency, liquidity and stability of the financial and mortgage markets. To the extent the financial or mortgage markets do not respond favorably to these government actions, or such actions do not function as intended, our business, results of operations and financial condition may continue to be materially adversely affected.
The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic impacts our business will depend on future developments which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted including new information which may emerge concerning the severity of COVID-19 and the actions to contain the pandemic or treat its impact, among others. If these effects continue for a prolonged period or result in a global economic slowdown or recession, many of the risk factors identified in our Annual Report on Form 10-K could be exacerbated and such effects could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations, value of our investments and cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
We cannot predict the effect that government policies, laws, and plans adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic or other future outbreaks involving highly infectious or contagious diseases and resulting recessionary economic conditions will have on us.
Governments have adopted, and we expect will continue to adopt, policies, laws, and plans intended to address the COVID-19 pandemic and adverse developments in the credit, financial, and mortgage markets that it has caused. We cannot assure you that these programs will be effective, sufficient, or otherwise have a positive impact on our business.
We may not be able to successfully operate our business or generate sufficient revenue to make or sustain distributions to our stockholders.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to continue to operate our business successfully or implement our operating policies and strategies as described herein. The results of our operations depend on several factors, including the availability of opportunities for the acquisition of assets, the level and volatility of interest rates, the availability of adequate short and long-term financing, conditions in the financial markets and economic conditions.
We may change any of our strategies, policies or procedures without stockholder consent.
We may change any of our strategies, policies or procedures with respect to investments, acquisitions, growth, operations, indebtedness, capitalization, distributions, financing strategy and leverage at any time without the consent of our stockholders, which could result in an investment portfolio with a different risk profile. A change in our investment strategy may increase our exposure to interest rate risk, default risk and real estate market fluctuations. Furthermore, a change in our asset allocation could result in our making investments in asset categories different from those described herein. These changes could adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations, the market price of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our stockholders.
Increases in interest rates could adversely affect the value of our investments and cause our interest expense to increase, which could result in reduced earnings or losses and negatively affect our profitability as well as the cash available for distribution to our stockholders.
Our investment portfolio contains a significant allocation to MBS, as well Residential and Commercial Whole Loans. The relationship between short-term and longer-term interest rates is often referred to as the “yield curve.” In a normal yield curve environment, an investment in such assets will generally decline in value if long-term interest rates increase. Declines in market value may ultimately reduce earnings or result in losses to us, which may negatively affect cash available for distribution to our stockholders. Ordinarily, short-term interest rates are lower than longer-term interest rates. If short-term interest rates rise disproportionately relative to longer-term interest rates (a flattening of the yield curve), our borrowing costs
will generally increase more rapidly than the interest income earned on our assets. Because our investments on average, generally bear interest based on longer-term rates than our borrowings, a flattening of the yield curve would tend to decrease our net interest margin, net income, book value and the market value of our net assets. It is also possible that short-term interest rates may exceed longer-term interest rates (a yield curve inversion), in which event our borrowing costs may exceed our interest income and we could incur operating losses. Additionally, to the extent cash flows from investments that return scheduled and unscheduled principal are reinvested, the spread between the yields on the new investments and available borrowing rates may decline, which would likely decrease our net income. A significant risk associated with our target assets is the risk that both long-term and short-term interest rates will increase significantly. If long-term rates increase significantly, the market value of these investments will decline, and the duration and weighted average life of the investments will increase. At the same time, an increase in short-term interest rates will increase the amount of interest owed on the repurchase agreements we enter into to finance the purchase of our investments.
Changes to, or the elimination of, LIBOR may adversely affect interest expense related to our loans and investments.
In July 2017, the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (the authority that regulates LIBOR) announced it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. The Alternative Reference Rates Committee (“ARRC”) has proposed that the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) is the rate that represents best practice as the alternative to USD-LIBOR for use in derivatives and other financial contracts that are currently indexed to USD-LIBOR. ARRC has proposed a paced market transition plan to SOFR from USD-LIBOR and organizations are currently working on industry wide and company specific transition plans as it relates to derivatives and cash markets exposed to USD-LIBOR. We have material contracts, including agreements governing certain of our indebtedness, that are indexed to USD-LIBOR and are monitoring this activity and evaluating the related risks. In addition, approximately half of our investment portfolio pays interest at a variable rate that is tied to LIBOR. If LIBOR is no longer available, we may need to renegotiate some of our agreements to determine a replacement index or rate of interest. To the extent the replacement index or rate of interest is lower than the existing LIBOR-based rate it could have an adverse impact on the value of such investments, our financial condition and results of operations. In September 2019, the FASB proposed guidance that would help facilitate the market transition from existing reference rates to alternative rates. However, at this time, it is not possible to predict the effect of any such changes, any establishment of alternative reference rates or any other reforms to LIBOR that may be enacted in the United Kingdom or elsewhere. Uncertainty as to the nature of such potential changes, alternative reference rates or other reforms may adversely affect the trading market for LIBOR-based securities, including our material contracts that are indexed to USD-LIBOR. Furthermore, we may need to renegotiate any agreements governing our indebtedness extending beyond 2021 that utilize LIBOR as a factor in determining the interest rate to replace LIBOR with the new standard that is established. There is currently no definitive information regarding the future utilization of LIBOR or of any particular replacement rate. As such, potential effect of any such event on our business, financial condition and results of operations cannot yet be determined.
We cannot assure you that our internal controls over financial reporting will consistently be effective.
We are responsible for establishing and maintaining adequate internal control over financial reporting designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting and the preparation of financial statements for external purposes in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. Because of its inherent limitations, internal control over financial reporting may not prevent or detect misstatements. We cannot ensure you that there will not be any material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting in the future.
Cybersecurity risk and cyber incidents may adversely affect our business by causing a disruption to our operations, a compromise or corruption of our confidential information and/or damage to our business relationships, all of which could negatively impact our financial results.
A cyber incident is considered to be any adverse event that threatens the confidentiality, integrity or availability of our information resources. These incidents may be an intentional attack or an unintentional event and could involve gaining unauthorized access to our information systems for purposes of misappropriating assets, stealing confidential information, corrupting data or causing operational disruption. The result of these incidents may include disrupted operations, misstated or unreliable financial data, liability for stolen assets or information, increased cybersecurity protection and insurance cost, litigation and damage to our investor relationships. As our reliance on technology has increased, so have the risks posed to both our information systems, both internal and those provided by our Manager and third party service providers. Our Manager has implemented processes, procedures and internal controls to help mitigate cybersecurity risks and cyber intrusions, but these measures, as well as our increased awareness of the nature and extent of a risk of a cyber incident, do not guarantee that our financial results, operations or confidential information will not be negatively impacted by such an incident.
Risks related to our investing strategy
Market and economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it more difficult for us to determine the fair value of our investments.
Market-based inputs are generally the preferred source of values for purposes of measuring the fair value of our assets under U.S. GAAP. However, the markets for our investments have and continue to experience extreme volatility, reduced transaction volume and liquidity, and disruption as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made it more difficult for us, and for the providers of third-party valuations that we use, to rely on market-based inputs in connection with the valuation of our assets under U.S. GAAP. The fair value of certain of our investments may fluctuate over short periods of time, and our determinations of fair value may differ materially from the values that would have been used if a ready market for these investments existed. The value of our common and our results of operations could be adversely affected if our determinations regarding the fair value of these investments were materially higher than the values that we ultimately realize upon their disposal.
Our investments in Non-Agency MBS, Residential Whole Loans, Commercial Loans and Residential Bridge Loans involve credit risks, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
The holder of a residential mortgages, commercial mortgages or MBS assumes the risk that the related borrowers may default on their obligations to make full and timely payments of principal and interest. Under our investment policy, we have the ability to acquire Non-Agency MBS, Residential Whole Loans, Commercial Loans and Residential Bridge Loans. In general, these investments carry greater investment risk than Agency MBS because the former are not guaranteed as to principal or interest by the U.S. Government, any federal agency or any federally chartered corporation. Higher-than-expected rates of default and/or higher-than-expected loss severities on these investments could adversely affect the value of these assets. Accordingly, defaults in the payment of principal and/or interest on our Residential Whole Loans, Commercial Loans, Residential Bridge Loans, and Non-Agency MBS and would likely result in our incurring losses of income from, and/or losses in market value relating to, these assets, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
In the last few years, our portfolio of Residential Whole Loans and Commercial Loans has increased. As a holder of these loans, we are subject to the risk that the related borrowers may default or have defaulted on their obligations to make full and timely payments of principal and interest. A number of factors impact a borrower’s ability to repay including, among other things, changes in employment status, changes in interest rates or the availability of credit, and changes in real estate values. Thr current pandemic has exacerbated many risks. In addition to the credit risk associated with these assets, Residential Whole Loans and Commercial Loans are less liquid than certain of our other credit sensitive assets, which may make them more difficult to dispose of if the need or desire arises. If actual results are different from our assumptions in determining the prices paid to acquire such loans, particularly if the market value of the underlying properties decreases significantly subsequent to purchase, we may incur significant losses, which could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities and competition may limit our ability to acquire
desirable investments in our portfolio assets and could also affect the pricing of these securities.
We operate in a highly competitive market for investment opportunities. Currently, our profitability depends, in large part, on our ability to acquire our portfolio assets at attractive prices. In acquiring these assets, we compete with a variety of institutional investors, including other REITs, specialty finance companies, public and private funds (including other funds managed by our Manager), commercial and investment banks, commercial finance and insurance companies and other financial institutions. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources than we do. Other REITs have recently raised, or may raise, additional capital, and may have investment objectives that overlap with ours, which may create additional competition for investment opportunities. Some competitors may have a lower cost of funds and access to funding sources that may not be available to us, such as funding from the U.S. Government. Many of our competitors are not subject to the operating constraints associated with REIT tax compliance or maintenance of an exemption from the 1940 Act. In addition, some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments, which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and establish more relationships than us. Furthermore, competition for investments in our portfolio assets may lead to the price of such assets increasing, which may further limit our ability to generate desired returns. We cannot assure you that the competitive pressures we face will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Also, as a result of this competition, desirable investments in these assets may be limited in the future and we may not be able to take advantage of
attractive investment opportunities from time to time, as we can provide no assurance that we will be able to identify and make investments that are consistent with our investment objectives.
A lack of liquidity in our investments may adversely affect our business.
Many of the assets we acquire are not publicly traded. A lack of liquidity may result from the absence of a willing buyer or an established market for these assets, as well as legal or contractual restrictions on resale or the unavailability of financing for these assets. In addition, mortgage-related assets generally experience periods of illiquidity, especially during periods of economic stress such as the economic recession in 2008 or the initial impact of the pandemic in 2020, which resulted in increased delinquencies and defaults with respect to residential and commercial mortgage loans. The illiquidity of our investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments if the need or desire arises. In addition, if we are required to liquidate all or a portion of our portfolio quickly, we may realize significantly less than the value at which we have previously recorded our investments. Further, we may face other restrictions on our ability to liquidate an investment in a business entity to the extent that we or our Manager has or could be attributed with material, non-public information regarding such business entity. As a result, our ability to vary our portfolio in response to changes in economic and other conditions may be relatively limited, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
An economic recession and declining real estate values could impair our assets and harm our operations.
The risks associated with our business are more severe during economic recessions and are compounded by declining real estate values. The Residential Whole Loans, Residential Bridge Loans, Commercial Loans, Non-Agency RMBS and Non-Agency CMBS in which we invest a part of our capital will be particularly sensitive to these risks. Declining real estate values will likely reduce the level of new mortgage loan originations since borrowers often use appreciation in the value of their existing properties t