This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a teaser ad that says you can “collect a $X,000 payday” — and it’s obviously appealing, there aren’t many among us who don’t find their eyes drifting toward a headline like “$6,500 payday,” even if, like your friendly neighborhood Gumshoe, you light your cigars with $100 bills.
OK, that’s not quite true. Mrs. Gumshoe wouldn’t take kindly to a cigar being lit with anything … and I’m afraid StockGumshoe.com will not soon be filing for an IPO that brings a guard shack and tennis courts to Gumshoe Mountain. Let’s just say that I’m willing to clean the dog poop out of my boots with a nickel, not just a penny like some of those less fortunate folks out there.
So yes, I admit, when I see a $6,500 payday I, too, find my attention drawn to the ad. So what’s being pitched?
The ad is from Richard Band for his Profitable Investing, and it’s all about …
“the one investment that could single-handedly help you beat inflation and provide you with a larger income stream than you ever thought possible.”
OK, so that sounds even better than $6,500. What is it?
“My favorite income fund pays a 65-cent dividend each quarter, or a whopping 18% annually. Putting that into perspective…
“… You pay less than $20 per share for 10,000 shares, and you will collect $6,500 every quarter.
“But here’s what’s really important: My income fund’s next ex-dividend date is on December 20, and if you act in the next 24 hours, you’ll capture your first $6,500 payday for owning the fund less than a month.”
OK, so it’s a fairly high yielder — though they clearly count on folks being drawn to the big numbers, since those of you with a good recollection of second grade math will know that “less than $20 per share for 10,000 shares” means your investment is somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000. Which is way more than most folks, even those of us who can afford to scoff at a pile of discarded poop-covered nickels, are willing to invest in a single company. $6,500 doesn’t sound quite as sexy if you’re putting $200,000 at risk to get it — but still, for a quarterly dividend that ain’t bad, and it does probably rank up there in the top yielders in the market.
So who is it?
Well, we know it’s a mortgage REIT … and we know now a few of those details from Band … so we can tell you that he’s again teasing Invesco Mortgage Capital (IVR)
And yes, I probably should have noticed that before I even started reading through the tease — since much the same language was used to tease this stock idea for us just a few months ago.
Though — and here’s the kicker — at that time (mid-September), Band was saying that we should buy this stock for an $8,000 payday … and, in researching back through old email messages, I’ve also recently noticed that he was previously teasing this same stock for a $10,000 payday.
Why? Because the dividend was $1 a share earlier this year. Then they cut it to 80 cents per share. And since that September tease, they cut it again to 65 cents per share for that $6,500 payout (again, assuming you’ve got 10,000 shares).
On the positive front, buying 10,000 shares would be substantially cheaper now than it was earlier this year — the stock is down below $15 now after the drop in book value and the dividend cuts over the last couple quarters, so you could buy your 10,000 shares for $150,000 instead of $200,000 if you’re so inclined.
Which is why it’s important to look at total performance, even for stocks that pay shockingly huge real dividends, as most of the mortgage REITs do — I say “real” because unlike some trust or MLP dividends these distributions are coming from real accounting income after expenses, they’re not a return of capital to shareholders. So they are really making money, but the key consideration for all of the high-leverage mortgage REITs is that, as we’ve discussed ad nauseum in these parts, they borrow short and lend long — so changes in rates and changes in their value of their mortgage holdings are critical. IVR has a market cap of less than $2 billion but carries $12.5 billion in debt, which is not unusual for a mortgage REIT but does mean that changes to the rate they have to pay to borrow (which changes every day) and the income they get from their mortgage bonds (which changes more slowly) have an outsize impact on the income and equity value that investors can claim.
And lately, news has been pretty consistently bad for IVR — arguably worse than for any of the other big mortgage REITs that I know of. Which made me wonder whether perhaps Band was doing some “bottom fishing” here and trying to say that Invesco was a buy because the shares had been beaten down unfairly by some one-time issues (or something like that) … but no, since the ad is almost identical in its arguments to those that ran over the Summer and earlier in the Fall, when IVR and its share price were a bit stronger, I have to guess that they just used the ad because it’s working to draw in subscribers … or perhaps because Band believes that IVR, even after doing substantially worse than their sector over the last six months, is still the name to buy in the mortgage REIT space.
As with all of the mortgage REITs, there is plenty of information to read out there about Invesco Mortgage if you’d like to read it — you’ll find big fans and detractors at Seeking Alpha (more detractors lately — folks are worried that the buyback won’t do much to help them, and think the drop in book value is a red flag), and there was an interesting piece on IVR over at the Motley Fool last month (before the latest dividend cut) noting their drop compared to peers.
For me, I haven’t been able to convince myself to buy a mortgage REIT in a long time — there’s just too much volatility with changes in federal mortgage rules always a bit of a threat, the unpredictable nature of the refinancing and prepayment market (which effectively take away a mortgage, sometimes at less than the book value you’ve assigned it, and force you to buy a new one that may have a lower yield), and with short-term interest rates such a bouncing ball when it comes to these companies I think we’re probably all a bit too complacent about what further debt implosions or risk aversion might do to the ability of these firms to borrow at the lowest possible rates.
They earn their money on the spread — so they may borrow at 2% and get a 4.5% yield on their mortgage bonds, for a 2.5% yield from their portfolio … which, when multiplied by 6-8X using debt, means they can earn up to 20% or so for equity owners like you. If the government drives refinancing to get rates down to 3.5%, or if lenders start to demand that they pay 2.5% for their short-term funding (for example), that spread can potentially evaporate in a hurry. Given the broad risks and the high yields of all of these companies, I’d probably still be tempted to go with the more seasoned operators and biggest players like Annaly (NLY) over the crop of newer REITs like IVR, but, truth be told, I probably won’t be buying any of them personally. I suspect that the best of them will probably get through the next crisis reasonably well, as long as you’re willing to hold on through some big volatile shakeups … after all, they’ve made it through before, and the yield has been high enough to help smooth out that volatility for long-term holders. But it’s hard for me to make an argument that Invesco Mortgage is one of “the best of them” at this point — Richard Band appears to still like ’em a log, and I don’t know the details of his reasoning so we’ll have to leave it there.
Oh, except to note that the ex-dividend date is December 22, not 20th, according to Yahoo Finance. And if the dividend stays at that 65 cents for the next four quarters it would get you a yield (taxable income, like most REITs and bonds) of 17.9%. Which is not the highest yield in the mortgage REIT space, nor the lowest (most of these REITs range from effective yields of 14-20% as you go from lower to higher perceived risk among investors).
Unless, of course, you’ve something to add? That’s why we’ve got that friendly little comment box below — any thoughts on IVR, any other favorite mortgage REITs or other super-high-yield picks? Let us know with a comment below.