Two Harbors Investment Corp (TWO): This mREIT Will Fly High on MSR Approval Despite Target Price Reduction

Credit Suisse in a report to its investors lowered the price target for Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO). This article will attempt to explore the reasons behind this decrease in the target price and also to see if it is a concern for you.

Price Target Lowered

Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO)Credit Suisse lowered the price target for Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) from $14 to $13 to reflect the recent Silver Bay dividend. Excluding the Silver Bay dividend the price target remains unchanged. The $13 price target signifies a 17% premium to the book value estimated by Credit Suisse. Compared to this, the consensus mean price target for Two Harbors is $13.10. This is the second estimate downgrade for Two Harbors this year.

Investment Mix

Within Two Harbors’ Agency holdings, returns are expected to improve as spreads widened during the first week. Credit Suisse expects to see 10 – 12% returns on its Agency MBS given the leverage remains within the range of 6 – 7 times. This means Credit Suisse is expecting an increase in leverage from its current level of 5.7 times. Agency spreads are dependent on the economy and the timing of the exit of the government’s easing. However, in the short-term, the management of Two Harbors is expecting tightening in Agency spreads.

Given the current macroeconomic environment, Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) MSRs present an excellent opportunity. Two Harbors received Freddie Mac’s approval on March 14, while the approvals from Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae are on their way. Now Two Harbors can operate as a mortgage servicer, which will further diversify the company’s investment portfolio. Two Harbors is expected to hire a sub-servicer, which will perform the servicing on any acquired MSR. The company is expected to announce acquisitions of MSRs during the second quarter of the current year, and looking at the rest of the servicers, you can expect to see a robust pipeline of MSR activity for the company.

MSRs are viewed as an attractive investment given the expected return would be around mid-teens on an unlevered basis. This is better than the other opportunities Two Harbors Investment Corp (NYSE:TWO) has. Further, as interest rates increase, MSRs will increase in value, acting as a hedge against the drop in book value due to the company’s Agency MBS.

Future Investments

The company expects to invest 50% of the recent capital raise into purchasing Agency mortgage backed securities, while 30% will be put into either high yielding non-Agency MBS or credit sensitive loans. The remainding 20% will be invested in mortgage servicing rights (MSRs). Two Harbors’ reliance on Agency MBS is expected to decrease with time as other asset classes get a chance to develop. However, its MSR investment is uncertain given the less liquid nature of that market.