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ETFs to Watch Post Dull Mortgage REIT Earnings

The year has been marked with ups and downs for mortgage REITs that provide real estate financing through the purchase of mortgages and mortgage-backed securities (MBS). Volatile markets triggered by global growth worries and mixed numbers from the U.S. economy weighed on these REITs.
 
In fact, this turbulence along with seesawing oil prices led to the central bank lowering the projected number of hikes this year. The Fed now expects the federal funds rate to rise to 0.875% by the end of the year, instead of the previously expected 1.375%, implying only two rate hikes as compared to the four projected in December. In its April meeting, the Fed kept the rates unchanged (read: ETFs that Won & Lost Post Fed Meet).
 
A low interest rate environment is expected to benefit the performance of mortgage REITs. These REITs finance their investments with equity and debt capital and generate profits through the spread between interest income on mortgage assets and funding costs. Lower interest rates would certainly aid their borrowing cost, pushing earnings and dividends higher. Meanwhile, these companies are buying back shares and diversifying their businesses to beat market woes.
 
Below we have highlighted the earnings of some of the major players in the mortgage REIT sector (read: Rate Sensitive ETFs to Play Lower Yields).
 
Earnings in Detail
 
American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC) saw first-quarter 2016 net spread and dollar roll income of 52 cents per share (excluding the estimated “catch-up” premium amortization benefit) that fell short of the Zacks Consensus Estimateof 57 cents.The reported figure also came in lower than 54 cents in the prior-year quarter. Moreover, the company’s net interest income (“NII”) of $196 million missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $273.1 million andwaslower than $288 million in the prior-year quarter.
 
As of March 31, 2016, the company’s net book value per share was $22.09, down from $22.59 as of December 31, 2015. Shares of the company have gained 2% (as of May6, 2016) since the first-quarter earnings release.
 
Another key player, Annaly Capital Management, Inc. (NLY) saw first-quarter 2016 normalized core earnings per share of 30 cents, down from 34 cents earned a year ago and below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 32 cents. NNI totaled $240.7 million, down 38.2% year over year and laggedthe Zacks Consensus Estimate of $271.8 million.
 
Annaly’s book value per share came in at $11.61 as of March 31, 2016, compared with $12.88 as of March 31, 2015. At the end of quarter, the company’s capital ratio (representing the ratio of stockholders’ equity to total assets) was 13.2%, down 14.3% year over year. Shares of the company gained 3.8% post earnings, as of May6.
 
ETFs to Watch
 
Despite dull first-quarter results, these mREITs have managed to hold on to modest gains, which are expected to translate into decent performance of REIT ETFs with significant exposure to them. Below, we have highlighted two of these ETFs that are likely to remain in focus in the upcoming days (see all Real Estate ETFs here).
 
iShares Mortgage Real Estate Capped ETF (REM)
 
REM tracks the FTSE NAREIT All Mortgage Capped Index, measuring the performance of the residential and commercial mREIT market in the U.S. The fund consists of 40 securities in its basket while it charges investors 48 bps a year. American Capital and Annaly Capital are the top two holdings in the fund with a combined allocation of more than 30%. The product has amassed around $789.3 million in its asset base and trades in an average volume of 1.2 million shares per day. It has a solid yield of 11.13%. REM gained3.6% in the last 10 days and has a Zacks ETF Rank #2 or ‘Buy’ rating with a Medium risk outlook (read: First Trust Plans for a Mortgage REIT ETF).
 
Market Vector Mortgage REIT Income ETF (MORT)
 
The ETF tracks the MVIS Global Mortgage REITs Index. The fund consists of 26 stocks and charges 41 bps in investor fees per year. Like REM, American Capital and Annaly Capital also occupy the top two spots in MORT, having a combined exposure of nearly 25%. The fund is relatively less popular with an asset base of $96.9 million and an average volume of roughly 38,000 shares per day. It has a dividend yield of 9.75%, comparable to that of REM. MORT also gained3.3% in the last 10 days. The fund has a Zacks ETF Rank #3 or ‘Hold’ rating with a Medium risk outlook.
 
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AMER CAP AGENCY (AGNC): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ANNALY CAP MGMT (NLY): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
ISHARS-MTG RE (REM): ETF Research Reports
 
VANECK-MTG REIT (MORT): ETF Research Reports
 
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