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TheStreet Open House

MBIA: Mortgage Putback Winner

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- MBIA (MBI) was the winner among major financial services companies on Wednesday, as the bond insurer's shares popped 18% to close at $10.41.

The broad indexes saw slight declines on a light day for economic releases. The KBW Bank Index (I:BKX) rose slightly to close at 55.04, and the KBW Insurance index rose 0.5% to close at 138.91.

The move in MBIA's shares underlined the major stakes the company has in lawsuits similar to the one that was decided late on Tuesday in favor of rival bond insurer Assured Guaranty (AGO).

Assured Guaranty was awarded $90.1 million plus expenses after claiming that the main subsidiary of Flagstar Bancorp (FBC) made fraudulent representations that caused the bond insurer $116 million in damages and expenses. Flagstar said in a statement that it intended "to vigorously contest the outcome on appeal."

Such an appeal may be a tall order, and would probably center around Flagstar's contention that Assured Guaranty's sampling process for the two pools of securitized home equity loans in question was flawed. Judge Jed Rakoff of the U.S. Southern District of New York wasn't buying Flagstar's arguments, and said that the loan sampling methodology by Assured Guaranty's expert witness was "not only appropriate to the courtroom but corroborated by the Court's own review." Rakoff also said that the expert witness's testimony was "fully credible."

Assured Guaranty's shares rose over 10% to close at $19.56.

MBIA has a similar mortgage putback lawsuit pending against Flagstar, seeking $165 million in damages over two mortgage loan securitizations. Flagstar will easily absorb a "worst-case loss of $1.50 per share to $2.00 per share" to tangible book value from the MBIA and Assured Guaranty lawsuits, according to FBR analyst Paul Miller.

But MBIA has bigger fish to fry, with a mortgage putback lawsuit pending against Bank of America which several analysts believe could be settled for between $2 billion and $3 billion, although the bank appears to be delaying a settlement while negotiating other mortgage repurchase claims with private investors.

Bank of America on Jan. 7 announced a mortgage repurchase settlement with government-sponsored mortgage giant Fannie Mae (FNMA). In its agreement to end the long-running and high profile dispute, Bank of America agreed to pay $3.6 billion in cash to Fannie and to pay roughly $6.75 billion to repurchase 30,000 mortgage loans.

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