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Ellington Financial Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter 2020 Results

Friday February 19, 2021. 12:01 AM , from Digital Pro Sound
Ellington Financial Inc. Reports Fourth Quarter 2020 Results
OLD GREENWICH, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ellington Financial Inc. (NYSE: EFC) (the “Company”) today reported financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2020.

Highlights

Net income of $63.2 million, or $1.44 per common share; full year 2020 net income of $17.2 million, or $0.39 per common share.

Core Earnings1 of $16.0 million, or $0.37 per share.

Book value per common share as of December 31, 2020 of $17.59, including the effects of dividends of $0.29 per common share for the quarter.

Credit strategy gross income of $75.0 million for the quarter, or $1.69 per share.

Agency strategy gross income of $6.3 million for the quarter, or $0.13 per share.

Dividend yield of 7.5% based on the February 17, 2021 closing stock price of $15.92 per share, and dividend of $0.10 per common share declared on February 5, 2021.

Debt-to-equity ratio of 2.6:1 and recourse debt-to-equity ratio of 1.6:12 as of December 31, 2020.

Cash and cash equivalents of $111.6 million as of December 31, 2020, in addition to other unencumbered assets of $442.5 million.

Fourth Quarter 2020 Results

“Ellington Financial fired on all cylinders in the fourth quarter, with broad-based contributions across our diversified credit and Agency portfolios. EFC generated Core Earnings of $0.37 per share, and a non-annualized quarterly economic return of 8.7% for the quarter,” said Laurence Penn, Chief Executive Officer and President. “The fourth quarter’s strong results brought our economic return and net income positive for the full year, despite the extreme volatility encountered earlier in the year. I am extremely proud of this result, which I believe confirms yet again the importance and effectiveness of our risk and liquidity management. Notably, EFC is one of the only publicly traded hybrid mortgage REITs to post a profit in 2020.

“During the fourth quarter, our loan origination businesses again led the way. In the non-QM space, our affiliate LendSure had a record quarter for origination volume, and our affiliate Longbridge concluded an outstanding year in the reverse mortgage space. We also closed on our second non-QM securitization of the year, and we securitized a pool of our unsecured consumer loans. We had strong performance across our short-duration loan portfolios, particularly residential transition mortgage loans, consumer loans, and small-balance commercial mortgage loans. In addition, our credit securities performed very well, most notably CLOs, CMBS, non-Agency RMBS, and European RMBS, as prices continued to recover from the March selloff. Finally, our Agency portfolio delivered another quarter of excellent results.

“Moving into 2021, our focus continues to be on growing our proprietary loan origination businesses, including potentially adding more strategic equity investments and loan flow purchase agreements. We will also continue to be opportunistic in our securities strategies, and plan to continue to extend and diversify our financings. We still hold ample liquidity and employ low leverage, which means that we have plenty of dry powder to add assets and grow earnings. As always, our disciplined hedging and risk management should continue to be critical in protecting book value, as we tackle the challenges and opportunities of the year ahead.”

Financial Results

The Company’s total long credit portfolio3 increased by approximately 2% in the fourth quarter, to $1.434 billion from $1.405 billion. The quarter-over-quarter increase was driven by larger non-QM and residential transition loan acquisitions, which more than offset significant pay-offs on the Company’s small balance commercial mortgage loan and consumer loan portfolios, as well as the completion of two loan securitizations during the quarter. In addition, the Company’s total long Agency RMBS portfolio increased approximately 4% to $959.4 million as of December 31, 2020, from $919.9 million as of September 30, 2020.

The Company’s debt-to-equity ratio decreased to 2.6:1 as of December 31, 2020, as compared to 2.7:1 as of September 30, 2020, primarily as a result of the completion during the quarter of a consumer loan securitization, which the Company did not consolidate, as well as an increase in the Company’s total equity. The Company’s recourse debt-to-equity ratio, adjusted for unsettled purchases and sales, also decreased over the course of the quarter to 1.6:1 from 1.7:1, driven by the increase in the Company’s total equity. As of December 31, 2020, the Company had cash and cash equivalents of approximately $111.6 million, along with other unencumbered assets of $442.5 million.

During the fourth quarter, the Company’s credit strategy generated total gross income of $75.0 million, or $1.69 per share, and its Agency strategy generated total gross income of $6.3 million, or $0.13 per share.

The Company’s credit portfolio generated excellent results for the quarter, driven by strong net interest income4 and significant mark-to-market gains across the portfolio. The Company benefited from strong performance in all of its credit strategies, as prices and liquidity continued to improve following the substantial market selloff earlier in the year. The Company also had notable strong performance from its equity investments in mortgage originators. Finally, with credit spreads tightening across most asset classes, credit hedges were the sole detractor of results during the quarter.

The Company’s Agency strategy delivered another quarter of strong performance, as Agency RMBS yield spreads tightened significantly. The primary drivers of these results were strong net interest income on the Company’s Agency RMBS investments, net realized and unrealized gains on its long TBA holdings, driven by Federal Reserve purchasing activity, and net realized and unrealized gains on interest rate hedges as long-term interest rates rose. A portion of this income was offset by net realized and unrealized losses on the Company’s Agency RMBS investments, driven largely by elevated prepayment activity. Average pay-ups on the Company’s specified pools declined to 2.05% as of December 31, 2020, from 2.25% as of September 30, 2020, primarily because its new purchases during the quarter consisted mainly of lower-pay-up pools. Pay-ups are price premiums for specified pools relative to their TBA counterparts.

During the fourth quarter the Company continued to hedge interest rate risk, primarily through the use of interest rate swaps, and to a lesser extent through the use of short positions in TBAs, U.S. Treasury securities, and futures. In addition, the Company continued to hold a portfolio of long TBAs for investment during the quarter.

1 Core Earnings is a non-GAAP financial measure. See “Reconciliation of Net Income (Loss) to Core Earnings” below for an explanation regarding the calculation of Core Earnings.
2 Excludes repo borrowings at certain unconsolidated entities that are recourse to us. Including such borrowings, the Company’s debt-to-equity ratio based on total recourse borrowings was 1.6:1 as of December 31, 2020.
3 Includes REO at the lower of cost or fair value. Excludes hedges and other derivative positions, as well as tranches of the Company’s consolidated non-QM securitization trusts that were sold to third parties, but that are consolidated for U.S. GAAP reporting purposes. Including such tranches, the Company’s total long credit portfolio was $2.173 billion and $2.095 billion, as of December 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020, respectively.
4 Excludes any interest income and interest expense items from Interest rate hedges, net and Credit hedges and other activities, net.

The following table summarizes the Company’s investment portfolio(1) holdings as of December 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020:

 

 

Fair Value

(In thousands)

 

December 31, 2020

 

September 30, 2020

Long:

 

 

 

 

Credit:

 

 

 

 

Dollar Denominated:

 

 

 

 

CLO(2)

 

$

181,229

 

 

$

165,954

 

CMBS

 

117,652

 

 

105,015

 

Commercial Mortgage Loans and REO(3)(4)

 

269,287

 

 

304,698

 

Consumer Loans and ABS backed by Consumer Loans(2)

 

112,077

 

 

200,857

 

Corporate Debt and Equity and Corporate Loans

 

12,606

 

 

10,257

 

Equity Investments in Loan Origination Entities

 

79,536

 

 

57,009

 

Non-Agency RMBS

 

154,492

 

 

166,787

 

Residential Mortgage Loans and REO(3)

 

1,188,731

 

 

1,033,481

 

Non-Dollar Denominated:

 

 

 

 

CLO(2)

 

6,108

 

 

2,693

 

Consumer Loans and ABS backed by Consumer Loans

 

306

 

 

333

 

Corporate Debt and Equity

 

28

 

 

27

 

RMBS(5)

 

51,388

 

 

47,663

 

Agency:

 

 

 

 

Fixed-Rate Specified Pools

 

807,704

 

 

756,580

 

Floating-Rate Specified Pools

 

6,454

 

 

7,046

 

IOs

 

47,656

 

 

51,705

 

Reverse Mortgage Pools

 

97,629

 

 

104,524

 

Total Long

 

$

3,132,883

 

 

$

3,014,629

 

Short:

 

 

 

 

Credit:

 

 

 

 

Dollar Denominated:

 

 

 

 

Corporate Debt and Equity

 

$

(218)

 

 

$

(461)

 

Government Debt:

 

 

 

 

Dollar Denominated

 



 

 

(14,310)

 

Non-Dollar Denominated

 

(38,424)

 

 

(36,722)

 

Total Short

 

$

(38,642)

 

 

$

(51,493)

 

(1)

 

This information does not include financial derivatives.

(2)

 

Includes equity investments in securitization-related vehicles.

(3)

 

In accordance with U.S. GAAP, REO is not considered a financial instrument and as a result is included at the lower of cost or fair value.

(4)

 

Includes equity investments in unconsolidated entities holding small balance commercial mortgage loans and REO.

(5)

 

Includes an equity investment in an unconsolidated entity holding European RMBS.

The following table summarizes the Company’s operating results for the three-month periods ended December 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020 and the year ended December 31, 2020:

 

 

Three-Month Period EndedDecember 31, 2020

 

Per Share

 

Three-Month Period Ended
September 30, 2020

 

Per Share

 

Year EndedDecember 31, 2020

 

Per Share

(In thousands, except per share amounts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income and other income(1)

 

$

34,089

 

 

$

0.77

 

 

$

37,764

 

 

$

0.85

 

 

$

150,266

 

 

$

3.41

 

Realized gain (loss), net

 

(3,984)

 

 

(0.09)

 

 

(645)

 

 

(0.01)

 

 

(14,458)

 

 

(0.33)

 

Unrealized gain (loss), net

 

41,270

 

 

0.93

 

 

26,802

 

 

0.60

 

 

(44,322)

 

 

(1.00)

 

Interest rate hedges, net(2)

 

18

 

 



 

 

(21)

 

 



 

 

(7,938)

 

 

(0.18)

 

Credit hedges and other activities, net(3)

 

(7,363)

 

 

(0.17)

 

 

(7,944)

 

 

(0.18)

 

 

(1,289)

 

 

(0.03)

 

Interest expense(4)

 

(11,016)

 

 

(0.25)

 

 

(11,866)

 

 

(0.27)

 

 

(48,223)

 

 

(1.09)

 

Other investment related expenses

 

(5,337)

 

 

(0.12)

 

 

(3,578)

 

 

(0.08)

 

 

(18,144)

 

 

(0.41)

 

Earnings (losses) from investments in unconsolidated entities

 

27,344

 

 

0.62

 

 

11,443

 

 

0.26

 

 

37,933

 

 

0.86

 

Total Credit profit (loss)

 

75,021

 

 

1.69

 

 

51,955

 

 

1.17

 

 

53,825

 

 

1.23

 

Agency RMBS:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

 

5,896

 

 

0.13

 

 

6,663

 

 

0.15

 

 

28,011

 

 

0.63

 

Realized gain (loss), net

 

166

 

 



 

 

2,062

 

 

0.05

 

 

12,695

 

 

0.29

 

Unrealized gain (loss), net

 

(1,678)

 

 

(0.04)

 

 

(2,276)

 

 

(0.05)

 

 

18,081

 

 

0.41

 

Interest rate hedges and other activities, net(2)

 

2,801

 

 

0.06

 

 

1,748

 

 

0.04

 

 

(33,672)

 

 

(0.76)

 

Interest expense(4)

 

(854)

 

 

(0.02)

 

 

(1,057)

 

 

(0.02)

 

 

(12,830)

 

 

(0.29)

 

Total Agency RMBS profit (loss)

 

6,331

 

 

0.13

 

 

7,140

 

 

0.17

 

 

12,285

 

 

0.28

 

Total Credit and Agency RMBS profit (loss)

 

81,352

 

 

1.82

 

 

59,095

 

 

1.34

 

 

66,110

 

 

1.51

 

Other interest income (expense), net

 

(29)

 

 



 

 

1

 

 



 

 

338

 

 

0.01

 

Income tax (expense) benefit

 

(7,888)

 

 

(0.18)

 

 

(2,494)

 

 

(0.06)

 

 

(11,377)

 

 

(0.26)

 

Other expenses

 

(6,857)

 

 

(0.15)

 

 

(6,900)

 

 

(0.16)

 

 

(26,694)

 

 

(0.61)

 

Net income (loss) (before incentive fee)

 

66,578

 

 

1.49

 

 

49,702

 

 

1.12

 

 

28,377

 

 

0.65

 

Incentive fee

 



 

 



 

 



 

 



 

 



 

 



 

Net income (loss)

 

$

66,578

 

 

$

1.49

 

 

$

49,702

 

 

$

1.12

 

 

$

28,377

 

 

$

0.65

 

Less: Dividends on preferred stock

 

1,941

 

 

0.04

 

 

1,940

 

 

0.04

 

 

7,763

 

 

0.18

 

Less: Net income (loss) attributable to non-participating non-controlling interests

 

562

 

 

0.01

 

 

912

 

 

0.02

 

 

3,372

 

 

0.08

 

Net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders and participating non-controlling interests

 

64,075

 

 

1.44

 

 

46,850

 

 

1.06

 

 

17,242

 

 

0.39

 

Less: Net income (loss) attributable to participating non-controlling interests

 

913

 

 

 

 

647

 

 

 

 

(3)

 

 

 

Net income (loss) attributable to common stockholders

 

$

63,162

 

 

$

1.44

 

 

$

46,203

 

 

$

1.06

 

 

$

17,245

 

 

$

0.39

 

Weighted average shares of common stock and convertible units(5) outstanding

 

44,415

 

 

 

 

44,392

 

 

 

 

44,122

 

 

 

Weighted average shares of common stock outstanding

 

43,782

 

 

 

 

43,779

 

 

 

 

43,486

 

 

 

(1)

 

Other income primarily consists of rental income on real estate owned and loan origination fees.

(2)

 

Includes U.S. Treasury securities, if applicable.

(3)

 

Other activities include certain equity and other trading strategies and related hedges, and net realized and unrealized gains (losses) on foreign currency.

(4)

 

Includes allocable portion of interest expense on the Company’s Senior notes.

(5)

 

Convertible units include Operating Partnership units attributable to participating non-controlling interests.

About Ellington Financial

Ellington Financial invests in a diverse array of financial assets, including residential and commercial mortgage loans, residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities, consumer loans and asset-backed securities backed by consumer loans, collateralized loan obligations, non-mortgage and mortgage-related derivatives, equity investments in loan origination companies, and other strategic investments. Ellington Financial is externally managed and advised by Ellington Financial Management LLC, an affiliate of Ellington Management Group, L.L.C.

Conference Call

The Company will host a conference call at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Friday, February 19, 2021, to discuss its financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2020. To participate in the event by telephone, please dial (877) 241-1233 at least 10 minutes prior to the start time and reference the conference ID number 9333979. International callers should dial (810) 740-4657 and reference the same conference ID number. The conference call will also be webcast live over the Internet and can be accessed via the “For Our Shareholders” section of the Company’s web site at www.ellingtonfinancial.com. To listen to the live webcast, please visit www.ellingtonfinancial.com at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the call to register, download, and install necessary audio software. In connection with the release of these financial results, the Company also posted an investor presentation, that will accompany the conference call, on its website at www.ellingtonfinancial.com under “For Our Shareholders—Presentations.”

A dial-in replay of the conference call will be available on Friday, February 19, 2021, at approximately 2:15 p.m. Eastern Time through Friday, March 5, 2021 at approximately 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. To access this replay, please dial (800) 585-8367 and enter the conference ID number 9333979. International callers should dial (404) 537-3406 and enter the same conference ID number. A replay of the conference call will also be archived on the Company’s web site at www.ellingtonfinancial.com.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements involve numerous risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from the Company’s beliefs, expectations, estimates, and projections and, consequently, you should not rely on these forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Forward-looking statements are not historical in nature and can be identified by words such as “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “project,” “plan,” “continue,” “intend,” “should,” “would,” “could,” “goal,” “objective,” “will,” “may,” “seek,” or similar expressions or their negative forms, or by references to strategy, plans, or intentions. Examples of forward-looking statements in this press release include without limitation management’s beliefs regarding the current economic and investment environment and the Company’s ability to implement its investment and hedging strategies, performance of the Company’s investment and hedging strategies, the Company’s exposure to prepayment risk in its Agency portfolio, and statements regarding the drivers of the Company’s returns. The Company’s results can fluctuate from month to month and from quarter to quarter depending on a variety of factors, some of which are beyond the Company’s control and/or are difficult to predict, including, without limitation, changes in interest rates and the market value of the Company’s securities, changes in mortgage default rates and prepayment rates, the Company’s ability to borrow to finance its assets, changes in government regulations affecting the Company’s business, the Company’s ability to maintain its exclusion from registration under the Investment Company Act of 1940; the Company’s ability to qualify and maintain its qualification as a real estate investment trust, or “REIT”; and other changes in market conditions and economic trends, including changes resulting from the ongoing spread and economic effects of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and associated responses to the pandemic. Furthermore, forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, including, among other things, those described under Item 1A of the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K filed on March 13, 2020 and under Part II, Item IA of the Company’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, as amended, for the three-month period ended March 31, 2020 which can be accessed through the Company’s website at www.ellingtonfinancial.com or at the SEC’s website (www.sec.gov). Other risks, uncertainties, and factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected or implied may be described from time to time in reports the Company’s files with the SEC, including reports on Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K. The Company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

ELLINGTON FINANCIAL INC.
CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF OPERATIONS
(UNAUDITED)

 

 

Three-Month Period Ended

 

Year Ended December 31, 2020

 

December 31, 2020

 

September 30, 2020

 

(In thousands, except per share amounts)

 

 

 

 

 

NET INTEREST INCOME

 

 

 

 

 

Interest income

$

39,067

 

 

$

43,075

 

 

$

173,531
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