Funny though how the King of Liar's Loans appears to be run by liars themselves (Mark to Market?). But don't worry HP'ers, like Enron and WorldCom before them, eventually IndyMac's probably incompetent auditors (where their CFO came from btw) will have to do their jobs. Eventually. I feel sorry for their likely soon-to-be-laid-off 8,600 employees, but hopefully they'll find honest work next time.
Mortgage Crisis Roughs up IndyMac
The mortgage lender, which provides "Alt-A" loans, suffers as the mortgage crisis
For investors in IndyMac Bancorp (IMB), here's the good news: the mortgage lender handles hardly any subprime loans. Defaults on the risky mortgages have skyrocketed, killing off a few of IndyMac's rivals. And Bear Stearns reported that its two hedge funds that held subprime mortgage debt were virtually worthless.
The bad news for IndyMac: The subprime crisis is spreading to other kinds of debt.
On Wednesday, IndyMac's stock fell 5.5% to $27.45. A downgrade by a Lehman Brothers analyst exacerbated worries that have sent the stock falling almost 40% so far this year.
At the top of the list of worries is so-called "Alt-A" mortgages. Subprime loans are taken out by buyers with low credit scores. Buyers who take out Alt-A loans are supposedly less risky, but they submit little documentation to prove it. The loan approval is usually based on a credit score and little else, with no proof of income. There's a "big spectrum" of quality among the loans, says Standard & Poor's Equity analyst Stuart Plesser. (S&P, like BusinessWeek, is owned by McGraw-Hill.)
IndyMac, as one of the country's biggest Alt-A originators, is vulnerable as the defaults rise among these loans. "From a credit quality perspective, it's a notch above subprime," says Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst Manuel Ramirez (KBW does investment banking with IndyMac). However, "you've seen signs of pretty significant credit deterioration," he says. Delinquencies and defaults are up.
Part of the problem is that no one really knows how bad the loan crisis will get, Plesser says. Experts worry that defaults will increase. "How many people were given mortgages who couldn't afford the loan?" Ramirez asks.
As important for IndyMac, what's the value of the homes that serve as collateral for its loans? "Now that you have home prices going down, what they have backing [the loans] isn't as strong as it once was," Plesser says.