January 29, 2023

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Why Is AGNC Investment’s Dividend So Significant?

The previous yr was downright awful for the property finance loan industry. House loan originators saw volumes drop as refinancing activity waned and homebuyers become far more cautious.

Home finance loan genuine estate investment decision trusts (REITs) bought hammered by outsized volatility in the bond marketplace, which frustrated e-book values. This translated into underperformance, which lowers earnings and stock selling prices and led to better dividend yields. Some of the yields in the property finance loan REIT space approached 20% earlier this yr.

Mortgage REIT AGNC Investment decision (AGNC -.98%) has a mid-teenagers percentage dividend yield. Is this sustainable? 

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Home finance loan REITs make investments in real estate personal debt

As pointed out previously mentioned, AGNC Financial investment is a property finance loan REIT, which is distinct than the normal REIT. Most REITs adhere to a landlord-tenant company model. They develop constructions like shopping malls, apartment buildings, or workplace parks and then rent out unique models to tenants. House loan REITs really don’t devote in attributes, they spend in home debt — in other words, home loans. They borrow income at low curiosity prices and invest that in home finance loan-backed securities, earning revenue off the spread. In this way, they are far more related to a lender. 

AGNC Financial investment concentrates generally on mortgage-backed securities (MBS) which are certain by the U.S. federal government. These securities are often referred to as “agency MBS” and are commonly built up of loans issued by authorities-sponsored organizations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If you bought your home with a standard personal loan, chances are it ended up in an company MBS held by a home loan REIT. 

The past calendar year was brutal for the mortgage loan space

About the earlier calendar year, the property finance loan business enterprise endured as a result of increasing curiosity rates. The Federal Reserve was compelled to take intense action to fight inflation, which resulted in a single of the most quick increases in desire premiums in many years. Increasing premiums are normally bad news for bonds, but when costs go speedily, it is doubly negative for house loan-backed securities. More than the previous calendar year, property finance loan-backed securities underperformed benchmark Treasury bonds by a wide margin. 

AGNC has expert declines in reserve price for every share for many quarters as property finance loan-backed securities fell in worth, and its fascination-rate hedges did not raise in value adequate to continue to keep up. So significantly, the business has not been compelled to reduce the dividend, but the rise in produce implies that traders consider it is a probability. 

The tensions might be easing, nevertheless. At a recent speech at the Brookings Establishment, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell reported that the Fed may decide on to moderate the pace of charge hikes as before long as the December meeting. Traders reacted positively to this news, and extended-term Treasury fees started to slide. Mortgage-backed securities have begun to outperform Treasuries, which means AGNC need to see improves in guide value per share. 

Dividend sustainability is dependent on the Fed

The big problem is regardless of whether AGNC Investment’s dividend is sustainable. The business presently pays a regular monthly dividend of $.12 per share. A large amount will rely on the path of inflation and federal coverage. The Fed signaled it is carried out with the continual eating plan of 75-foundation-level will increase every single meeting the federal funds futures index predicts a 75% opportunity of a 50-foundation-position hike at the December assembly and only a 25% prospect of a 75-basis-point hike. They also see charges growing only marginally future calendar year.

If this forecast turns out to be proper, home finance loan-backed securities should really revert to their historic marriage with Treasuries, which usually means fantastic factors for e-book value and profits, which must enable get AGNC’s dividend generate again down to extra sustainable degrees. If inflation reaccelerates, all bets are off.