Losses in the U.S. mortgage market may be the “tip of the iceberg,” Bank of America Corp. analysts said today in a note for clients.
Higher interest rates have yet to affect many home owners who took out adjustable-rate mortgages, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank said. Interest payments on about $900 billion of the riskiest subprime home-loans are due to increase this year and next, the analysts wrote.
Bear Stearns Cos., the second-biggest underwriter of mortgage bonds, plans to assume $3.2 billion of loans to stop creditors from taking over assets of one of its hedge funds, people with knowledge of the proposal said. Concern about the collapse of the funds, which made bad bets on mortgage-backed securities, sent bonds and stocks of finance companies lower.
“The demise of two Bear Stearns managed leveraged mortgage funds could be the tipping point of a broader fallout from subprime mortgage credit deterioration,” wrote Bank of America analysts led by Robert Lacoursiere in New York.
Countrywide Financial Corp. and IndyMac Bancorp Inc., two of the largest U.S. mortgage lenders, may suffer more than other finance companies because they hold mortgages themselves as well as selling them on to investors, the analysts wrote. They may not have set aside enough money to cover losses, said Bank of America, which has a “sell” recommendation on both lenders