In a move that will unnerve Wall Street and embolden Fannie Mae's ( FNM) critics in Congress and in the White House, the company's first-quarter earnings releases didn't disclose shareholders' equity, the most watched number in Fannie's financials. Over the past two years, the company has failed to hedge itself against the big drop in interest rates, which has led to a huge amount of derivatives losses building up in shareholders' equity. There had been a small recovery in shareholders' equity in the fourth quarter of 2003 as interest rates rose. However, the decline in rates in the first quarter could have taken its toll. A sharply reduced number would've been a big embarrassment for Fannie. It is highly unusual for any company not to provide this simple balance sheet item. The only reference Fannie made to its equity was a note in its earnings release that said it would be providing equity data in its first quarter 10-Q filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company said that this regulatory filing is expected to be available on May 10. RealMoney's Peter Eavis has
focused on the issue of large losses in Fannie's shareholders' equity. The company didn't immediately return a call seeking an explanation for the missing equity data. Another indication that the first-quarter may have been a tough one for Fannie was that it scaled back its debt repurchase cost from the year-earlier total. When this number is large, it shows Fannie has had room in the quarter to do a large amount of debt repurchases. But in the first quarter it was only an expense of $26.7 million, vs. $227 million in the year-ago quarter. Fannie's accounting has come under added suspicion in recent weeks because the company's regulator hinted that it might have to restate its capital numbers .