MFA Financial's CEO Presents At 2012 UBS Global Financial Services Conference (Transcript)

MFA Financial, Inc. (MFA)

2012 UBS Global Financial Services Conference Call

May 8, 2012 8:00 AM ET


Stewart Zimmerman – Chairman and CEO

Bill Gorin – President


Unidentified Participant

Good morning. Thank you for joining us for the first presentation of the morning. Pleased to have MFA with us today. They have a long track record investing in both agency and non-agency RMBS and one of the first agency mortgage REIT to diversify the non-agency. They are also a little bit different than their peers and that they take less interest rate risk, both on the agency and the non-agency side.

Representing MFA from my left is Stewart Zimmerman, Chairman and CEO; Bill Gorin, President; and Craig Knutson, Executive Vice President, who runs their non-agency RMBS business. I will turn it over to Stewart. Thank you.

Stewart Zimmerman

Thank you (inaudible). We appreciate the opportunity of speaking at the conference today and thank you all for attending. This will make my General Counsel very happy. So just a quick peek.

We are an internally managed and you can notice that that’s underlined. We are self advised and self managed real estate investment trust and we are positioned to benefit from our investment – I don’t know why that happened – in both agency and non-agency residential mortgage-backed securities.

So when folks look at us into the kind of – distinguish us from some of the peers – actually, I don’t think we have a lot of peers in this side, but we are specialist in residential mortgage-back securities, which comprise of both agency and non-agency securities. And again, being self advised and self managed we think kind of distinguishes us from some of the other folks.

An experienced management team and we’ve been doing this, we put the company on the map in the New York Stock Exchange in April of 1998 and we have gone through some of the most difficult of times as you all know. Investment opportunities certainly exist in the residential mortgage-back securities particularly in the non-agency sector. Again, still somewhat inefficient market as compared to the agency market. The agency MBS investment returns, they continue to benefit from a steep yield curve and despite governmental actions, refinancing rates are not spiking. So we can talk our HARP, HAMP and there will be other governmental programs, again I can just say to you that the CPR expectations, both prepays on the agency and non-agency side have come in well within our expectations.

In this period of economic uncertainty, our goal remains to generate double digit returns in equity with an appropriate level of leverage. And again, if you go back historically, I think you will find that we have been, if not the least levered, but certainly one of the least levered companies in our space.

Very proud of this slide, always enjoy talking about it. But since January of 2000, we’ve had about a 14.5% annual compounded return. I think that speaks volumes in terms of how the company is run, in terms of being prudent, in terms of being able to manage at risk.

I am going to turn over to Bill in just – to Bill Gorin, our President, in just a moment, but one of the things I would like you to notice and Bill will give you some greater detail. When you look at the next interest spread both on the agencies and you look at the non-agencies and again, Bill will you some detail, and when you look at the spreads and you look at the asset allocation, I think that’s a very important part of our entire story.

I am going to turn over to Bill who will give you the detail.

Bill Gorin

So with this page we try to illustrate for you how we allocate our equity, how we look at the various returns within the residential mortgage-backed securities sector. So the first column is agency MBS, which probably more of you are familiar with than the non-agency. There you see our debt-to-equity ratio is 6.87 times, which is probably similar to some of the mortgage REITs you may be familiar with. What I would like to point out again within the agency column is that the yield on our assets is 3.15% and we’ve achieved that without any 30-year fixed rate. So this is with hybrids, 75% hybrids, 25% 15-year generating a yield in excess of 3%. That’s a good thing.

Our cost of funds is high and that’s because we are more mature mortgage REIT, we put on swaps five years ago, which are running off this year in the main, and that cost of funds, 1.71 is expected to trend down this year. The spread of 144 is probably in the low side but it’s not because of the asset yield, it’s because of the cost of funds and we expect that cost of funds to trend down this year.

Next column is the non-agencies. There you see the debt-to-equity is 1.8 times and this is why we are very excited about the non-agency sector. The yield, the loss adjusted yield before any leverage is 6.9%. So 6.9% yielding asset with what we believe are conservative loss assumptions makes it a very attractive asset to us. Cost of funds is 2.16% and the spread is 4.76%. So hopefully these numbers speak to you as to why we are very interested in this sector.

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