Buy This 9% Yielding mREIT – MFA Financial, Inc. (MFA): Two Harbors Investment Corp (TWO), Invesco Mortgage Capital Inc (IVR)

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MFA Financial, Inc. (NYSE:MFA) reported its fourth quarter performance on March 6, 2013. This article will review the latest earnings by this 9% dividend yielder and compare it with its closest peers.

Company Business

Incorporated in 1997, MFA Financial, Inc. (NYSE:MFA) started operations in 1998 as a hybrid mortgage REIT. The company is classified as hybrid mortgage REIT as it is invested in both Agency and non-Agency mortgage backed securities. As a company policy, 50% of its investment portfolio consists of Agency and non-Agency MBS while the remainder is other types of MBS and residential mortgage loans, other real estate related debt and equity and other yield instruments in compliance with its qualification as a REIT.

The charts above summarize the company’s holdings as of December 31, 2012. Figure 1 shows that the company is largely invested in Agency mortgage backed securities as they form 57% of the entire MBS portfolio. Within the Agency portfolio, adjustable rate securities are 68% while the remainder is fixed rate. MFA Financial only has 15-year fixed rate mortgage backed securities in its Agency portfolio.

In comparison, Invesco Mortgage Capital Inc (NYSE:IVR) and Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) have similarly diverse investment portfolios. Around 69% of Invesco Mortgage Capital Inc (NYSE:IVR)’s portfolio is invested in Agency MBS while 17% is non-Agency. Over 81% of Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO)’ portfolio is Agency MBS while the remainder is non-Agency.

Recent Quarter Performance Review

MFA Financial, Inc. (NYSE:MFA) reported its fourth quarter performance on March 6, 2013. The core earnings per share of $0.20 per share remained in line with the expectations while the book value grew by 2.16% to $8.99 per common share over the prior quarter.

The fourth quarter of 2012 was characterized by decreasing interest rates and increasing refinancing as a result of the Fed’s efforts to revive the US housing sector. However, despite the challenging environment, MFA Financial was able to increase its 79 bps year over year to $124.9 million. The appreciation in interest income was a result of higher interest income from non-Agency MBS, partially offset by lower interest income accruing from Agency MBS and non-Agency MBS transferred to consolidated VIEs.

of $43.1 million increased 11% over the prior year. As a result, the fourth quarter net interest income came in at $81.9 million, down 4% over the same time period.

During the fourth quarter, MFA Financial, Inc. (NYSE:MFA) earned 4.24% yield on its interest earning assets while it paid 1.71% on its interest bearing liabilities. This resulted in a net interest rate spread of 2.53%, up 9 bps from the linked quarter but down 16 bps from a year ago. Compared to the linked quarter, MFA Financial’s cost of funds dropped 11 bps.

In comparison, Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) reported 20 bps declined in its fourth quarter net interest rate spread while for Invesco Mortgage Capital Inc (NYSE:IVR), the sequential decline was only 2 bps.

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