10-K 1 pmt-10k_20171231.htm 10-K pmt-10k_20171231.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, DC 20549

 

Form 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017

Or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                      to                     

Commission file number: 001-34416

 

PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Maryland

 

27-0186273

(State or other jurisdiction of

incorporation or organization)

 

(IRS Employer

Identification No.)

 

 

 

 

3043 Townsgate Road, Westlake Village, California

 

91361

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

(818) 224-7442

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

 

 

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange on Which Registered

8.125% Series A Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 Par Value

8.00% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 Par Value

Common Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 Par Value

 

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

New York Stock Exchange

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.     Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.     Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.     Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).     Yes       No  

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act (check one):

 

Large accelerated filer

 

 

Accelerated filer

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  (Do not check if a smaller reporting company)

 

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).     Yes       No  

As of June 30, 2017 the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common shares of beneficial interest, $0.01 par value (“common shares”), held by nonaffiliates was $1,195,286,742 based on the closing price as reported on the New York Stock Exchange on that date.

As of February 26, 2018, there were 60,666,592 common shares of the registrant outstanding.

Documents Incorporated By Reference

 

Document

 

Parts Into Which Incorporated

Definitive Proxy Statement for 2018 Annual Meeting of Shareholders

 

Part III

 

 


PENNYMAC MORTGAGE INVESTMENT TRUST

FORM 10-K

December 31, 2017

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

Page

Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

 

3

PART I

 

6

Item 1

 

Business

 

6

Item 1A

 

Risk Factors

 

13

Item 1B

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

43

Item 2

 

Properties

 

43

Item 3

 

Legal Proceedings

 

43

Item 4

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

43

PART II

 

44

Item 5

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

44

Item 6

 

Selected Financial Data

 

46

Item 7

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

47

Item 7A

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

99

Item 8

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

99

Item 9

 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

99

Item 9A

 

Controls and Procedures

 

99

Item 9B

 

Other Information

 

102

PART III

 

103

Item 10

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

103

Item 11

 

Executive Compensation

 

103

Item 12

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

103

Item 13

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

103

Item 14

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

 

103

PART IV

 

104

Item 15

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

 

104

Item 16

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

113

 

 

Signatures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2


SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Report”) contains certain forward-looking statements that are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements are generally identifiable by use of forward-looking terminology such as “may,” “will,” “should,” “potential,” “intend,” “expect,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “approximately,” “believe,” “could,” “project,” “predict,” “continue,” “plan” or other similar words or expressions.

Forward-looking statements are based on certain assumptions, discuss future expectations, describe future plans and strategies, contain financial and operating projections or state other forward-looking information. Examples of forward-looking statements include the following:

 

projections of our revenues, income, earnings per share, capital structure or other financial items;

 

descriptions of our plans or objectives for future operations, products or services;

 

forecasts of our future economic performance, interest rates, profit margins and our share of future markets; and

 

descriptions of assumptions underlying or relating to any of the foregoing expectations regarding the timing of generating any revenues.

Our ability to predict results or the actual effect of future events, actions, plans or strategies is inherently uncertain. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are based on reasonable assumptions, our actual results and performance could differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements. There are a number of factors, many of which are beyond our control that could cause actual results to differ significantly from management’s expectations. Some of these factors are discussed below.

You should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statement and should consider the following uncertainties and risks, as well as the risks and uncertainties discussed elsewhere in this Report and any subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q.

Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from historical results or those anticipated include, but are not limited to:

 

changes in our investment objectives or investment or operational strategies, including any new lines of business or new products and services that may subject us to additional risks;

 

the occurrence of natural disasters or other events or circumstances that could impact our operations;

 

volatility in our industry, the debt or equity markets, the general economy or the real estate finance and real estate markets specifically, whether the result of market events or otherwise;

 

events or circumstances which undermine confidence in the financial markets or otherwise have a broad impact on financial markets, such as the sudden instability or collapse of large depository institutions or other significant corporations, terrorist attacks, natural or man-made disasters, or threatened or actual armed conflicts;

 

changes in general business, economic, market, employment and political conditions, or in consumer confidence and spending habits from those expected;

 

declines in real estate or significant changes in U.S. housing prices or activity in the U.S. housing market;

 

the availability of, and level of competition for, attractive risk-adjusted investment opportunities in mortgage loans and mortgage-related assets that satisfy our investment objectives;

 

the inherent difficulty in winning bids to acquire mortgage loans, and our success in doing so;

 

the concentration of credit risks to which we are exposed;

 

the degree and nature of our competition;

 

our dependence on our manager and servicer, potential conflicts of interest with such entities and their affiliates, and the performance of such entities;

 

changes in personnel and lack of availability of qualified personnel at our manager, servicer or their affiliates;

 

the availability, terms and deployment of short-term and long-term capital;

 

the adequacy of our cash reserves and working capital;

 

our ability to maintain the desired relationship between our financing and the interest rates and maturities of our assets;

3


 

the timing and amount of cash flows, if any, from our investments;

 

unanticipated increases or volatility in financing and other costs, including a rise in interest rates;

 

the performance, financial condition and liquidity of borrowers;

 

the ability of our servicer, which also provides us with fulfillment services, to approve and monitor correspondent sellers and underwrite loans to investor standards;

 

incomplete or inaccurate information or documentation provided by customers or counterparties, or adverse changes in the financial condition of our customers and counterparties;

 

our indemnification and repurchase obligations in connection with mortgage loans we purchase and later sell or securitize:

 

the quality and enforceability of the collateral documentation evidencing our ownership and rights in the assets in which we invest;

 

increased rates of delinquency, default and/or decreased recovery rates on our investments;

 

the performance of mortgage loans underlying mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) in which we retain credit risk;

 

our ability to foreclose on our investments in a timely manner or at all;

 

increased prepayments of the mortgages and other loans underlying our MBS or relating to our mortgage servicing rights (“MSRs”), excess servicing spread (“ESS”) and other investments;

 

the degree to which our hedging strategies may or may not protect us from interest rate volatility;

 

the effect of the accuracy of or changes in the estimates we make about uncertainties, contingencies and asset and liability valuations when measuring and reporting upon our financial condition and results of operations;

 

our failure to maintain appropriate internal controls over financial reporting;

 

technologies for loans and our ability to mitigate security risks and cyber intrusions;

 

our ability to obtain and/or maintain licenses and other approvals in those jurisdictions where required to conduct our business;

 

our ability to detect misconduct and fraud;

 

our ability to comply with various federal, state and local laws and regulations that govern our business;

 

developments in the secondary markets for our mortgage loan products;

 

legislative and regulatory changes that impact the mortgage loan industry or housing market;

 

changes in regulations or the occurrence of other events that impact the business, operations or prospects of government agencies such as the Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”), the Federal Housing Administration (the “FHA”) or the Veterans Administration (the “VA”), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”), or government-sponsored entities such as the Federal National Mortgage Association (“Fannie Mae”) or the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae are each referred to as an “Agency” and, collectively, as the “Agencies”), or such changes that increase the cost of doing business with such entities;

 

the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) and its implementing regulations and regulatory agencies, and any other legislative and regulatory changes that impact the business, operations or governance of mortgage lenders and/or publicly-traded companies;

 

the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and its issued and future rules and the enforcement thereof;

 

changes in government support of homeownership;

 

changes in government or government-sponsored home affordability programs;

 

limitations imposed on our business and our ability to satisfy complex rules for us to qualify as a real estate investment trust (“REIT”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes and qualify for an exclusion from the Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “Investment Company Act”) and the ability of certain of our subsidiaries to qualify as REITs or as taxable REIT subsidiaries (“TRSs”) for U.S. federal income tax purposes, as applicable, and our ability and the ability of our subsidiaries to operate effectively within the limitations imposed by these rules;

 

changes in governmental regulations, accounting treatment, tax rates and similar matters (including changes to laws governing the taxation of REITs, or the exclusions from registration as an investment company);

4


 

our ability to make distributions to our shareholders in the future;

 

our failure to deal appropriately with issues that may give rise to reputational risk; and

 

our organizational structure and certain requirements in our charter documents.

Other factors that could also cause results to differ from our expectations may not be described in this Report or any other document. Each of these factors could by itself, or together with one or more other factors, adversely affect our business, results of operations and/or financial condition.

Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect the impact of circumstances or events that arise after the date the forward-looking statement was made.

 

 

5


PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

The following description of our business should be read in conjunction with the information included elsewhere in this Report. This description contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. Actual results could differ significantly from the projections and results discussed in the forward-looking statements due to the factors described under the caption “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Report. References in this Report to “we,” “our,” “us,” “PMT,” or the “Company” refer to PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust and its consolidated subsidiaries, unless otherwise indicated.

Our Company

We are a specialty finance company that invests primarily in residential mortgage loans and mortgage-related assets. We were organized in Maryland and began operations in 2009. We conduct substantially all of our operations, and make substantially all of our investments, through PennyMac Operating Partnership, L.P. (our “Operating Partnership”) and its subsidiaries. A wholly-owned subsidiary of ours is the sole general partner, and we are the sole limited partner, of our Operating Partnership. Certain of the activities conducted or investments made by us that are described below are conducted or made through a wholly-owned subsidiary that is a taxable REIT subsidiary (“TRS”) of our Operating Partnership.

The management of our business and execution of our operations is performed on our behalf by subsidiaries of PennyMac Financial Services, Inc. (“PFSI” or “PennyMac”). PFSI is a specialty financial services firm focused on the production and servicing of U.S. mortgage loans and the management of investments related to the U.S. mortgage market. Specifically:

 

We are managed by PNMAC Capital Management, LLC (“PCM” or our “Manager”), an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of PennyMac and an investment adviser registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) that specializes in, and focuses on, U.S. mortgage assets.

 

All of the loans we acquire in our correspondent production operations (as described below) are fulfilled on our behalf by another indirect wholly-owned PennyMac subsidiary, PennyMac Loan Services, LLC (“PLS” or our “Servicer”), which also services the mortgage loans we hold in our residential mortgage investment portfolio and the mortgage loans for which we retain the obligation to service as a result of our correspondent production.

Our investment focus is on mortgage-related assets that we create through our correspondent production activities, including mortgage servicing rights (“MSRs”) and credit risk transfer agreements (“CRT Agreements”). We have acquired these investments largely by purchasing, pooling and selling newly originated prime credit quality residential mortgage loans (“correspondent production”), retaining the MSRs relating to such mortgage loans and investing in CRT Agreements associated with certain of such mortgage loans.

Our business includes four segments: correspondent production, credit sensitive strategies, interest rate sensitive strategies and corporate activities.

 

The correspondent production segment represents the Company’s operations aimed at serving as an intermediary between mortgage lenders and the capital markets by purchasing, pooling and reselling newly originated prime credit quality mortgage loans either directly or in the form of mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) and in serving as the source for our investments in MSRs and CRT Agreements.

 

The credit sensitive strategies segment represents the Company’s investments in CRT Agreements, distressed mortgage loans, real estate acquired in settlement of mortgage loans (“REO”), non-Agency subordinated bonds and small balance commercial real estate mortgage loans.

 

The interest rate sensitive strategies segment represents the Company’s investments in MSRs, excess servicing spread (“ESS”), Agency and senior non-Agency MBS and the related interest rate hedging activities.  

 

The corporate segment includes certain interest income and management fee and other corporate expenses.

6


Following is a summary of our segment results for the periods presented:

 

 

For the year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Net investment income:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correspondent production

 

$

131,981

 

 

$

168,530

 

 

$

100,400

 

 

$

62,897

 

 

$

120,683

 

Credit sensitive strategies

 

 

133,400

 

 

 

66,256

 

 

 

108,315

 

 

 

254,922

 

 

 

258,745

 

Interest rate sensitive strategies

 

 

51,777

 

 

 

36,651

 

 

 

39,447

 

 

 

38,269

 

 

 

25,339

 

Corporate

 

 

782

 

 

 

651

 

 

 

603

 

 

 

653

 

 

 

751

 

 

 

$

317,940

 

 

$

272,088

 

 

$

248,765

 

 

$

356,741

 

 

$

405,518

 

Pre-tax income:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correspondent production

 

$

42,938

 

 

$

73,842

 

 

$

36,390

 

 

$

10,960

 

 

$

35,679

 

Credit sensitive strategies

 

 

102,214

 

 

 

17,288

 

 

 

66,038

 

 

 

206,738

 

 

 

224,028

 

Interest rate sensitive strategies

 

 

22,683

 

 

 

14,041

 

 

 

20,516

 

 

 

23,371

 

 

 

13,462

 

Corporate

 

 

(43,289

)

 

 

(43,408

)

 

 

(49,640

)

 

 

(61,605

)

 

 

(58,534

)

 

 

$

124,546

 

 

$

61,763

 

 

$

73,304

 

 

$

179,464

 

 

$

214,635

 

Total assets at year end:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Correspondent production

 

$

1,302,245

 

 

$

1,734,290

 

 

$

1,298,968

 

 

$

665,489

 

 

$

488,813

 

Credit sensitive strategies

 

 

1,791,447

 

 

 

2,288,886

 

 

 

2,787,064

 

 

 

2,655,500

 

 

 

2,554,464

 

Interest rate sensitive strategies

 

 

2,414,423

 

 

 

2,177,024

 

 

 

1,640,062

 

 

 

1,359,409

 

 

 

1,132,936

 

Corporate

 

 

96,818

 

 

 

157,302

 

 

 

100,830

 

 

 

216,860

 

 

 

127,261

 

 

 

$

5,604,933

 

 

$

6,357,502

 

 

$

5,826,924

 

 

$

4,897,258

 

 

$

4,303,474

 

In our correspondent production activities, we purchase Agency-eligible mortgage loans and jumbo mortgage loans. A jumbo mortgage loan is a loan in an amount that exceeds the maximum loan amount for eligible loans under Agency guidelines. We then sell Agency-eligible mortgage loans meeting the guidelines of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on a servicing-retained basis whereby we retain the related MSRs; government mortgage loans (insured by the FHA or guaranteed by the VA), which we sell on a servicing-released basis to PLS, a Ginnie Mae approved issuer and servicer; and jumbo mortgage loans, which, generally on a servicing-retained basis, we sell.

Our correspondent production business involves purchases of mortgage loans from approved mortgage originators that meet specific criteria related to management experience, financial strength, risk management controls and mortgage loan quality. As of December 31, 2017, we have 613 approved sellers, primarily independent mortgage originators and small banks located across the United States. During 2017, we were the second largest correspondent aggregator in the United States as ranked by Inside Mortgage Finance.


7


Following is a summary of our correspondent production activities:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Correspondent mortgage loan purchases at fair value:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Government-insured or guaranteed

 

$

42,087,007

 

 

$

42,171,914

 

 

$

31,945,396

 

 

$

16,523,216

 

 

$

16,068,253

 

Agency-eligible

 

 

23,742,999

 

 

 

23,930,186

 

 

 

14,360,888

 

 

 

11,474,345

 

 

 

15,358,372

 

Jumbo

 

 

 

 

 

10,227

 

 

 

117,714

 

 

 

383,854

 

 

 

582,996

 

Commercial

 

 

69,167

 

 

 

18,112

 

 

 

14,811

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

65,899,173

 

 

$

66,130,439

 

 

$

46,438,809

 

 

$

28,381,415

 

 

$

32,009,621

 

Interest rate lock commitments issued

 

$

65,926,958

 

 

$

67,139,108

 

 

$

48,138,062

 

 

$

27,815,464

 

 

$

28,967,903

 

Gain on mortgage loans acquired for sale (1)

 

$

74,516

 

 

$

106,442

 

 

$

51,016

 

 

$

35,647

 

 

$

98,669

 

Fair value of mortgage loans at year end pending sale to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonaffiliates

 

$

989,944

 

 

$

868,496

 

 

$

614,507

 

 

$

428,397

 

 

$

345,777

 

PLS

 

 

279,571

 

 

 

804,616

 

 

 

669,288

 

 

 

209,325

 

 

 

112,360

 

 

 

$

1,269,515

 

 

$

1,673,112

 

 

$

1,283,795

 

 

$

637,722

 

 

$

458,137

 

Number of approved sellers at year-end

 

 

613

 

 

 

522

 

 

 

432

 

 

 

344

 

 

 

229

 

 

(1)

Gain on mortgage loans acquired for sale includes recognition of initial and subsequent changes to the fair value of interest rate lock commitments (“IRLCs”), mortgage loans purchased under such commitments, and the derivative financial instruments acquired to manage the risk of changes in fair value of our inventory of mortgage loans and IRLCs during the period from the commitment date through the earlier of the date of sale or end of year, and the fair value of MSRs initially capitalized upon the sale of loans.  

Our correspondent production activities serve as the source of our investments in MSRs and CRT Agreements, and are summarized below:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Sales of mortgage loans acquired for sale:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To nonaffiliates

 

$

24,314,165

 

 

$

23,525,952

 

 

$

14,206,816

 

 

$

11,703,015

 

 

$

15,818,582

 

To PennyMac Financial Services, Inc.

 

 

42,624,288

 

 

 

42,051,505

 

 

 

31,490,920

 

 

 

16,431,338

 

 

 

16,113,806

 

 

 

$

66,938,453

 

 

$

65,577,457

 

 

$

45,697,736

 

 

$

28,134,353

 

 

$

31,932,388

 

Net gain on mortgage loans acquired for sale

 

$

74,516

 

 

$

106,442

 

 

$

51,016

 

 

$

35,647

 

 

$

98,669

 

Sourcing fees received from PLS included in Net gain on

   mortgage loans acquired for sale

 

$

12,084

 

 

$

11,976

 

 

$

8,966

 

 

$

4,676

 

 

$

4,611

 

Investment activities driven by correspondent production:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Receipt of MSRs as proceeds from sales of mortgage loans

 

$

290,309

 

 

$

275,092

 

 

$

154,474

 

 

$

121,333

 

 

$

183,032

 

Deposits of cash securing CRT Agreements

 

$

152,641

 

 

$

306,507

 

 

$

147,446

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

Increase in commitments to fund Deposits securing CRT

   Agreements resulting from sale of mortgage loans under

   CRT Agreements

 

$

390,362

 

 

$

92,109

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

 

$

 

We also invest in MBS, ESS on MSRs acquired by PLS and real estate held for investment. We historically invested in distressed mortgage assets (mortgage loans and REO), which are no longer our primary focus for new investments.

8


Following is a summary of our acquisitions of other mortgage-related investments:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

MBS

 

$

251,872

 

 

$

765,467

 

 

$

84,828

 

 

$

185,972

 

 

$

199,558

 

ESS

 

 

5,244

 

 

 

6,603

 

 

 

278,282

 

 

 

103,235

 

 

 

139,028

 

Transfers of REO to real estate held for investment

 

 

16,530

 

 

 

21,406

 

 

 

8,827

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distressed mortgage loans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

241,981

 

 

 

554,604

 

 

 

1,063,162

 

 

 

$

273,646

 

 

$

793,476

 

 

$

613,918

 

 

$

843,811

 

 

$

1,401,748

 

Our portfolio of mortgage investments was comprised of the following:

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Credit Sensitive Assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distressed mortgage loans at fair value

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performing

 

$

414,785

 

 

$

611,584

 

 

$

877,438

 

 

$

664,266

 

 

$

647,266

 

Nonperforming

 

 

353,648

 

 

 

742,988

 

 

 

1,222,956

 

 

 

1,535,317

 

 

 

1,647,527

 

 

 

 

768,433

 

 

 

1,354,572

 

 

 

2,100,394

 

 

 

2,199,583

 

 

 

2,294,793

 

Small balance commercial mortgage loans

 

 

9,898

 

 

 

8,961

 

 

 

14,590

 

 

 

 

 

REO and real estate held for investment

 

 

207,089

 

 

 

303,393

 

 

 

350,642

 

 

 

303,228

 

 

 

148,080

 

Credit risk transfer agreements (1)

 

 

687,507

 

 

 

465,669

 

 

 

147,593

 

 

 

 

 

Subordinated interest in mortgage loans held in VIE

 

 

9,661

 

 

 

8,925

 

 

 

35,484

 

 

 

35,663

 

 

 

33,582

 

Agency debt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12,000

 

 

 

 

1,682,588

 

 

 

2,141,520

 

 

 

2,648,703

 

 

 

2,538,474

 

 

 

2,488,455

 

Interest Rate Sensitive Assets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agency MBS

 

 

989,461

 

 

 

865,061

 

 

 

225,150

 

 

 

195,518

 

 

 

197,401

 

Non-Agency senior MBS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

97,323

 

 

 

111,845

 

 

 

ESS

 

 

236,534

 

 

 

288,669

 

 

 

412,425

 

 

 

191,166

 

 

 

138,723

 

Interest rate hedges (2)

 

 

9,303

 

 

 

4,749

 

 

 

2,282

 

 

 

3,016

 

 

 

4,766

 

Mortgage loans held in a VIE, net of asset-backed

   financing

 

 

3,960

 

 

 

4,346

 

 

 

172,220

 

 

 

325,786

 

 

 

324,655

 

MSRs

 

 

844,781

 

 

 

656,567

 

 

 

459,741

 

 

 

357,780

 

 

 

290,572

 

 

 

 

2,084,039

 

 

 

1,819,392

 

 

 

1,369,141

 

 

 

1,185,111

 

 

 

956,117

 

 

 

$

3,766,627

 

 

$

3,960,912

 

 

$

4,017,844

 

 

$

3,723,585

 

 

$

3,444,572

 

 

(1)

Investments in CRT Agreements include deposits securing CRT Agreements and credit risk transfer (“CRT”) derivatives.

(2)

Derivative assets, net of derivative liabilities, excluding IRLC and CRT derivatives.

Over time, our targeted asset classes may change as a result of changes in the opportunities that are available in the market, among other factors. We may not invest in certain of the investments described above if we believe those types of investments will not provide us with attractive opportunities or if we believe other types of our targeted assets provide us with better opportunities.

Investment Policies

Our board of trustees has adopted the policies set forth below for our investments and borrowings. PCM reviews our compliance with the investment policies regularly and reports periodically to our board of trustees regarding such compliance.

 

No investment shall be made that would cause us to fail to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes;

 

No investment shall be made that would cause us to be regulated as an investment company under the Investment Company Act; and

 

With the exception of real estate and housing, no single industry shall represent greater than 20% of the investments or total risk exposure in our portfolio.

9


These investment policies may be changed by a majority of our board of trustees without the approval of, or prior notice to, our shareholders.

We have not adopted a policy that expressly prohibits our trustees, officers, shareholders or affiliates from having a direct or indirect financial interest in any investment to be acquired or disposed of by us or in any transaction to which we are a party or have an interest. We do not have a policy that expressly prohibits any such persons from engaging for their own account in business activities of the types conducted by us. However, our code of business conduct and ethics contains a conflicts of interest policy that prohibits our trustees and officers, as well as employees of PennyMac and its subsidiaries who provide services to us, from engaging in any transaction that involves an actual or apparent conflict of interest with us without the appropriate approval. We also have written policies and procedures for the review and approval of related party transactions, including oversight by designated committees of our board of trustees and PFSI’s board of directors.

Our Financing Activities

We have pursued growth of our investment portfolio by using a combination of equity and borrowings, generally in the form of borrowings under agreements to repurchase. We use borrowings to finance our investments and not to speculate on changes in interest rates.

During 2014, we issued 3.8 million common shares under an ATM Equity Offering Sales Agreementsm and received net proceeds totaling $89.5 million. We used the proceeds of the 2014 offerings to fund a portion of the purchase price of our mortgage-related investments, to fund the continued growth of our correspondent production business and for general business purposes.

During 2017, we issued 4,600,000 of our 8.125% Series A Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 par value per share (“Series A Preferred Shares”) and 7,800,000 of our 8.00% Series B Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 par value per share (the “Series B Preferred Shares” and, together with the Series A Preferred Shares, the “Preferred Shares”). We received proceeds of $299.7 million net of issuance costs from these issuances. From, and including, the date of original issuance to, but not including, March 15, 2024 and June 15, 2024, respectively, the Company pays cumulative dividends on the Series A Preferred Shares at a fixed rate of 8.125% and on the Series B Preferred Shares at a fixed rate of 8.00% per annum based on the $25.00 per share liquidation preference. Thereafter, dividends are paid at rates indexed to the U.S. Dollar LIBOR rate.

Our board of trustees has authorized a common share repurchase program under which we may repurchase up to $300 million of our outstanding common shares. Repurchased common shares are canceled upon settlement of the repurchase transactions and returned to the authorized but unissued share pool. Repurchases under this program are summarized below:

 

 

 

Year ended December 31,

 

 

Cumulative

 

 

 

2017

 

 

2016

 

 

2015

 

 

Total

 

 

 

(in thousands)

 

Common shares repurchased

 

 

5,647

 

 

 

7,368

 

 

 

1,045

 

 

 

14,060

 

Cost of common shares repurchased

 

$

91,198

 

 

$

98,370

 

 

$

16,338

 

 

$

205,906

 

In 2013, our wholly-owned subsidiary, PennyMac Corp. (“PMC”), issued in a private offering $250 million principal amount of 5.375% Exchangeable Senior Notes due 2020 (the “Exchangeable Notes”). The net proceeds were used to fund our business and investment activities, including the acquisition of distressed mortgage loans or other investments; the funding of the continued growth of our correspondent production business, including the purchase of jumbo loans; the repayment of other indebtedness; and general business purposes.

We maintain multiple master repurchase agreements and mortgage loan participation and sale agreements with money center banks to fund newly originated prime mortgage loans purchased from correspondent sellers. The total unpaid principal balance (“UPB”) outstanding under the facilities in existence as of December 31, 2017 was $1.2 billion.

In 2016, our wholly-owned subsidiary, PennyMac Holdings, LLC (“PMH”) entered into a master repurchase agreement with PLS, pursuant to which PMH sells to PLS participation certificates representing a beneficial interest in Ginnie Mae ESS under an agreement to repurchase. The purchase price is based upon a percentage of the market value of the ESS. Pursuant to the master repurchase agreement, PMH grants to PLS a security interest in all of its right, title and interest in, to and under the ESS and PLS, in turn, re-pledges such ESS along with its interest in all of its Ginnie Mae MSRs under a repurchase agreement to a special purpose entity, which issues variable funding notes and term notes that are secured by such Ginnie Mae assets. The notes are repaid through the cash flows received by the special purpose entity as the lender under its repurchase agreement with PLS, which, in turn, receives

10


cash flows from us under our repurchase agreement secured by the Ginnie Mae ESS. The total UPB outstanding under this facility as of December 31, 2017 was $144.1 million.

We finance mortgage servicing rights relating to mortgage loans serviced for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In 2017, through PMC and PMH, we entered into a master repurchase agreement with a wholly-owned special purpose entity, which issues variable funding notes and may, in the future, issue term notes that are secured by participation certificates representing a beneficial interest in Fannie Mae MSRs and the related ESS. The notes are repaid through the cash flows received by the special purpose entity as the lender under the repurchase agreement, pursuant to which PMC grants to the special purpose entity a security interest in all of its right, title and interest in, to and under the MSRs and ESS. The total UPB outstanding under this facility as of December 31, 2017 was $100.0 million.

Our borrowings are made under agreements that include various covenants, including profitability, the maintenance of specified levels of cash, adjusted tangible net worth and overall leverage limits. Our ability to borrow under these facilities is limited by the amount of qualifying assets that we hold and that are eligible to be pledged to secure such borrowings and our ability to fund any applicable margin requirements. We are not otherwise required to maintain any specific debt-to-equity ratio, and we believe the appropriate leverage for the particular assets we finance depends on, among other things, the credit quality and risk of such assets. Our declaration of trust and bylaws do not limit the amount of indebtedness we can incur, and our board of trustees has discretion to deviate from or change our financing strategy at any time.

Subject to maintaining our qualification as a REIT and exclusion from registration under the Investment Company Act, we may hedge the interest rate risk associated with the financing of our portfolio.

Our Manager and Our Servicers

We are externally managed and advised by PCM pursuant to a management agreement. PCM specializes in and focuses on investments in U.S. mortgage assets. PCM has also served as the investment manager to two private investment funds. The private investment funds sold substantially all of their remaining investment assets on August 9, 2017; therefore, the combined net assets of the entities managed by PCM, of approximately $1.6 billion as of December 31, 2017, was comprised primarily of our shareholders’ equity.

PCM is responsible for administering our business activities and day-to-day operations, including developing our investment strategies, sourcing and acquiring mortgage loans and mortgage-related assets for our investment portfolio, and developing the appropriate approach to be taken by PLS for each loan as it performs its specialty servicing. Pursuant to the terms of the management agreement, PCM provides us with our senior management team, including our officers and support personnel. PCM is subject to the supervision and oversight of our board of trustees and has the functions and authority specified in the management agreement.

We also have a loan servicing agreement with PLS, pursuant to which PLS provides primary and special servicing for our portfolio of residential mortgage loans and MSRs. PLS’ mortgage loan servicing activities include collecting principal, interest and escrow account payments, if any, with respect to mortgage loans, as well as managing loss mitigation, which may include, among other things, collection activities, loan workouts, modifications and refinancings, foreclosures, short sales and sales of REO. Servicing fee rates are based on the delinquency status and other characteristics of the mortgage loans serviced and total servicing compensation is established at levels that our Manager believes are competitive with those charged by other primary servicers and specialty servicers. PLS also provided special servicing to the private investment funds and the entities in which those funds invested. PLS acted as the servicer for mortgage loans with UPB totaling approximately $245.8 billion as of December 31, 2017.

We have a commercial mortgage loan servicing agreement with Midland Loan Services, a Division of PNC Bank, National Association (“Midland”), pursuant to which Midland provides the master servicing for commercial mortgage loans that we acquire and may also provide special servicing, as necessary. We also have a commercial mortgage loan servicing oversight agreement with PLS, pursuant to which PLS provides oversight of Midland, including vendor management, review of reports and procedures for accuracy and timeliness, and monitoring Midland’s activities and performance.

Operating and Regulatory Structure

Taxation – REIT Qualification

We have elected to be treated as a REIT under Sections 856 through 860 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (the “Internal Revenue Code”) beginning with our taxable year ended December 31, 2009. Our qualification as a REIT depends upon our ability to meet on a continuing basis, through actual investment and operating results, various complex requirements under the Internal Revenue Code relating to, among other things, the sources of our gross income, the composition and values of our assets, our distribution levels and the diversity of ownership of our common shares. We believe that we are organized in conformity with the requirements for

11


qualification and taxation as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code, and that our manner of operation enables us to meet the requirements for qualification and taxation as a REIT.

As a REIT, we generally are not subject to U.S. federal income tax on our REIT taxable income we distribute to our shareholders. If we fail to qualify as a REIT in any taxable year and do not qualify for certain statutory relief provisions, we will be subject to U.S. federal income tax at regular corporate rates and may be precluded from qualifying as a REIT for the subsequent four taxable years following the year during which we lost our REIT qualification. Accordingly, our failure to qualify as a REIT could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and amounts available for distribution to our shareholders.

Even though we have elected to be taxed as a REIT, we are subject to some U.S. federal, state and local taxes on our income or property. A portion of our business is conducted through, and a portion of our income is earned in, our TRS that is subject to corporate income taxation. In general, a TRS of ours may hold assets and engage in activities that we cannot hold or engage in directly and may engage in any real estate or non-real estate related business. A TRS is subject to U.S. federal, state and local corporate income taxes. To maintain our REIT election, at the end of each quarter no more than 25% (20% for years beginning after December 31, 2017) of the value of a REIT’s assets may consist of stock or securities of one or more TRSs.

 

If our TRS generates net income, our TRS can declare dividends to us, which will be included in our taxable income and necessitate a distribution to our shareholders. Conversely, if we retain earnings at the TRS level, no distribution is required and we can increase shareholders’ equity of the consolidated entity. As discussed in Section 1A of this Report entitled Risk Factors , the combination of the requirement to maintain no more than 25% (20% for years beginning after December 31, 2017) of our assets in the TRS coupled with the effect of TRS dividends on our income tests creates compliance complexities for us in the maintenance of our qualified REIT status.

The dividends paid deduction of a REIT for qualifying dividends to its shareholders is computed using our taxable income as opposed to net income reported on our financial statements. Taxable income generally differs from net income reported on our financial statements because the determination of taxable income is based on tax laws and regulations and not financial accounting principles.

Licensing

We and PLS are required to be licensed to conduct business in certain jurisdictions. PLS is, or is taking steps to become, licensed in those jurisdictions and for those activities where it believes it is cost effective and appropriate to become licensed. Through our wholly owned subsidiaries, we are also licensed, or are taking steps to become licensed, in those jurisdictions and for those activities where we believe it is cost effective and appropriate to become licensed. In jurisdictions in which neither we nor PLS is licensed, we do not conduct activity for which a license is required. Our failure or the failure by PLS to obtain any necessary licenses promptly, comply with applicable licensing laws or satisfy the various requirements or to maintain them over time could materially and adversely impact our business.

Competition

In our correspondent production activities, we compete with large financial institutions and with other independent residential mortgage loan producers and servicers. We compete on the basis of product offerings, technical knowledge, loan quality, speed of execution, rate and fees.

In acquiring mortgage assets, we compete with specialty finance companies, private funds, other mortgage REITs, thrifts, banks, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, mutual funds, institutional investors, investment banking firms, governmental bodies and other entities, which may also be focused on acquiring mortgage-related assets, and therefore may increase competition for the available supply of mortgage assets suitable for purchase. Many of our competitors are significantly larger than we are and have stronger financial positions and greater access to capital and other resources than we have and may have other advantages over us. Such advantages include the ability to obtain lower-cost financing, such as deposits, and operational efficiencies arising from their larger size. Some of our competitors may have higher risk tolerances or different risk assessments and may not be subject to the operating restraints associated with REIT tax compliance or maintenance of an exclusion from the Investment Company Act, any of which could allow them to consider a wider variety of investments and funding strategies and to establish more relationships with sellers of mortgage assets than we can.

Because the availability of pools of mortgage assets may fluctuate, the competition for assets and sources of financing may increase. Increased competition for assets may result in our accepting lower returns for acquisitions of residential mortgage loans and other assets or adversely influence our ability to bid for such assets at levels that allow us to acquire the assets. An increase in the competition for sources of funding could adversely affect the availability and terms of financing, and thereby adversely affect the market price of our common shares.

12


In the face of this competition, we have access to PCM’s professionals and their industry expertise, which we believe provides us with a competitive advantage and helps us assess investment risks and determine appropriate pricing for certain potential investments. We expect this relationship to enable us to compete more effectively for attractive investment opportunities. Furthermore, we believe that our access to PLS’s special servicing expertise helps us to maximize the fair value of our distressed residential mortgage loans and provides us with a competitive advantage over other companies with a similar focus.

We believe that current market and regulatory conditions may have adversely affected the financial condition and operations of certain owners of mortgage assets. Further, regulatory and capital issues have contributed to the decision by certain financial institutions to exit or curtail their correspondent production business and to reduce their portfolios of MSRs. Not having a legacy portfolio or the same regulatory or capital issues may enable us to compete more effectively for attractive business or investment opportunities. However, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to achieve our business goals or expectations due to the competitive and other risks that we face.

Staffing

We have three employees. All of our officers are employees of PennyMac or its affiliates. We do not pay our officers any cash compensation under the terms of our management agreement.

Available Information

Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements and amendments to those reports filed with or furnished to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, are available free of charge at www.pennymacmortgageinvestmenttrust.com  through the investor relations section of our website as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing such material with the SEC. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding our filings at  www.sec.gov. In addition, the public may read and copy the materials we file with the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F. Street, NE, Washington, D.C. 20549. Information regarding the operation of the Public Reference Room may be obtained by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. The above references to our website and the SEC’s website do not constitute incorporation by reference of the information contained on those websites and should not be considered part of this document.

 

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

In addition to the other information set forth in this Report, you should carefully consider the following factors, which could materially affect our business, liquidity, financial condition, results of operations or ability to make distributions to our shareholders in future periods. The risks described below are not the only risks that we face. Additional risks not presently known to us or that we currently deem immaterial may also materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations in future periods.

Risks Related to Our Management and Relationship with Our Manager and Its Affiliates

We are dependent upon PCM and PLS and their resources and may not find suitable replacements if any of our service agreements with PCM or PLS are terminated.

In accordance with our management agreement, we are externally advised and managed by PCM, which makes all or substantially all of our investment, financing and risk management decisions, and has significant discretion as to the implementation of our operating policies and strategies. Under our loan servicing agreement with PLS, PLS provides primary servicing and special servicing for our portfolios of mortgage loans and MSRs, and under our mortgage banking services agreement with PLS, PLS provides fulfillment and disposition-related services in connection with our correspondent production business. The costs of these services increase our operating costs and may reduce our net income, but we rely on PCM and PLS to provide these services under these agreements because we have limited employees or in-house capability to perform the activities independently.

No assurance can be given that the strategies of PCM, PLS or their affiliates under any of these agreements will be successful, that any of them will conduct complete and accurate due diligence or provide sound advice, or that any of them will act in our best interests with respect to the allocation of their resources to our business. The failure of any of them to do any of the above, conduct the business in accordance with applicable laws and regulations or hold all licenses or registrations necessary to conduct the business as currently operated would materially and adversely affect our ability to continue to execute our business plan.

In addition, the terms of these agreements extend until September 12, 2020, subject to automatic renewal for additional 18-month periods, but any of the agreements may be terminated earlier under certain circumstances or otherwise non-renewed. If any

13


agreement is terminated or non-renewed and not replaced by a new agreement, it would materially and adversely affect our ability to continue to execute our business plan.

If our management agreement or loan servicing agreement is terminated or not renewed, we will have to obtain the services from another service provider. We may not be able to replace these services in a timely manner or on favorable terms, or at all. With respect to our mortgage banking services agreement, the services provided by PLS are inherently unique and not widely available, if at all. This is particularly true because we are not a Ginnie Mae licensed issuer, yet we are able to acquire government mortgage loans from our correspondent sellers that we know will ultimately be purchased from us by PLS. While we generally have exclusive rights to these services from PLS during the term of our mortgage banking services agreement, in the event of a termination we may not be able to replace these services in a timely manner or on favorable terms, or at all, and we ultimately would be required to compete against PLS as it relates to our correspondent business activities.

The management fee structure could cause disincentive and/or create greater investment risk.

Pursuant to our management agreement, PCM is entitled to receive a base management fee that is based on our shareholders’ equity (as defined in our management agreement) at the end of each quarter. As a result, significant base management fees would be payable to PCM for a given quarter even if we experience a net loss during that quarter. PCM’s right to non-performance-based compensation may not provide sufficient incentive to PCM to devote its time and effort to source and maximize risk-adjusted returns on our investment portfolio, which could, in turn, materially and adversely affect the market price of our shares and/or our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Conversely, PCM is also entitled to receive incentive compensation under our management agreement based on our performance in each quarter. In evaluating investments and other management strategies, the opportunity to earn incentive compensation based on our net income may lead PCM to place undue emphasis on higher yielding investments and the maximization of short-term income at the expense of other criteria, such as preservation of capital, maintenance of sufficient liquidity and/or management of market risk, in order to achieve higher incentive compensation. Investments with higher yield potential are generally riskier and more speculative.

The servicing fee structure could create a conflict of interest.

For its services under our loan servicing agreement, PLS is entitled to servicing fees that we believe are competitive with those charged by primary servicers and specialty servicers and include fixed per-loan monthly amounts based on the delinquency, bankruptcy and/or foreclosure status of the serviced loan or the REO, as well as activity fees that generally are calculated as a percentage of unpaid principal balance or proceeds realized. PLS is also entitled to customary ancillary income and certain market-based fees and charges, including boarding and deboarding fees, liquidation and disposition fees, and assumption, modification and origination fees. In addition, to the extent we have participated in the Home Affordable Modification Program (“HAMP”) (or other similar mortgage loan modification programs), PLS may be entitled to retain any incentive payments made to it in connection with our participation therein. Because certain of these fees are earned upon reaching a specific milestone, this fee structure may provide PLS with an incentive to foreclose more aggressively or liquidate assets for less than their fair value.

On our behalf, PLS also refinances performing and nonperforming loans and originates new loans to facilitate the disposition of real estate that we acquire through foreclosure. In order to provide PLS with an incentive to produce such loans, PLS is entitled to receive origination fees and other compensation based on market-based pricing and terms that are consistent with the pricing and terms offered by PLS to unaffiliated third parties on a retail basis. This may provide PLS with an incentive to refinance a greater proportion of our loans than it otherwise would and/or to refinance loans on our behalf instead of arranging the refinancings with a third party lender, either of which might give rise to a potential or perceived conflict of interest.

Termination of our management agreement is difficult and costly.

It is difficult and costly to terminate, without cause, our management agreement. Our management agreement provides that it may be terminated by us without cause under limited circumstances and the payment to PCM of a significant termination fee. The cost to us of terminating our management agreement may adversely affect our desire or ability to terminate our management agreement with PCM without cause. PCM may also terminate our management agreement upon at least 60 days’ prior written notice if we default in the performance of any material term of our management agreement and the default continues for a period of 30 days after written notice to us, or where we terminate our loan servicing agreement, our mortgage banking services agreement or certain other of our related party agreements with PCM or PLS without cause (at any time other than at the end of the current term or any automatic renewal term), whereupon in any case we would be required to pay to PCM a significant termination fee. As a result, our desire or ability to terminate any of our related party agreements may be adversely affected to the extent such termination would trigger the right of PCM to terminate the management agreement and our obligation to pay PCM a significant termination fee.

14


Existing or future entities or accounts managed by PCM may compete with us for, or may participate in, investments, any of which could result in conflicts of interest.

Although our agreements with PCM and PLS provide us with certain exclusivity and other rights and we and PCM have adopted an allocation policy to specifically address some of the conflicts relating to our investment opportunities, there is no assurance that these measures will be adequate to address all of the conflicts that may arise or will address such conflicts in a manner that is favorable to us. Certain of the funds that PCM may advise in the future may have investment objectives that overlap with ours, including funds which have different fee structures, and potential conflicts may arise with respect to decisions regarding how to allocate investment opportunities among those funds and us. We are also limited in our ability to acquire assets that are not qualifying real estate assets and/or real estate related assets, whereas other entities or accounts that PCM manages now or may manage in the future are not, or may not be, as applicable, so limited. In addition, PCM and the other entities or accounts managed by PCM now or in the future may participate in some of our investments, which may not be the result of arm’s length negotiations and may involve or later result in potential conflicts between our interests in the investments and those of PCM or such other entities.

BlackRock and HC Partners, PFSI’s strategic investors, could compete with us or transact business with us, which could result in a conflict of interest.

PFSI’s strategic investors, BlackRock and HC Partners, each own significant investments in PFSI. Affiliates of each of BlackRock and HC Partners currently manage investment vehicles and separate accounts that may compete directly or indirectly with us. BlackRock and HC Partners are under no obligation to provide us with any financial or operational assistance, or to present opportunities to us for matters in which they may become involved. We may enter into transactions with BlackRock or HC Partners or with market participants with which BlackRock or HC Partners has business relationships, and such transactions and/or relationships could influence the decisions made by PCM with respect to the purchase or sale of assets and the terms of such purchase or sale. Such activities could have an adverse effect on the value of the positions held by us, or may result in BlackRock and/or HC Partners having interests adverse to ours.

We may encounter conflicts of interest in our Manager’s efforts to appropriately allocate its time and services between its own activities and the management of us, and the loss of the services of our Manager’s management team could adversely affect us.

Pursuant to our management agreement, PCM is obligated to provide us with the services of its senior management team, and the members of that team are required to devote such time to us as is necessary and appropriate, commensurate with our level of activity. The members of PCM’s senior management team may have conflicts in allocating their time and services between the operations of PFSI and our activities, and other entities or accounts that they manage now or in the future.

 

The experience of PFSI’s senior managers is valuable to us. PFSI’s management team has significant experience in the mortgage loan production, servicing and investment management industries. Neither we nor PFSI maintains life insurance policies relating to our or PFSI’s senior managers. The loss of the services of PFSI’s senior managers for any reason could adversely affect our business.

Our failure to deal appropriately with various issues that may give rise to reputational risk, including conflicts of interest and legal and regulatory requirements, could cause harm to our business and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Maintaining our reputation is critical to attracting and retaining customers, trading counterparties, investors and employees.  If we fail to deal with, or appear to fail to deal with, various issues that may give rise to reputational risk, we could significantly harm our business. Such issues include, but are not limited to, conflicts of interest, legal and regulatory requirements, and any of the other risks discussed in this Item 1A.

As we expand the scope of our businesses, we confront potential conflicts of interest relating to our investment activities that are managed by PCM. The SEC and certain other regulators have increased their scrutiny of potential conflicts of interest, and as we expand the scope of our business, we must continue to monitor and address any conflicts between our interests and those of PFSI. We have implemented procedures and controls to be followed when real or potential conflicts of interest arise, but it is possible that potential or perceived conflicts could give rise to the dissatisfaction of, or litigation by, our investors or regulatory enforcement actions. Appropriately dealing with conflicts of interest is complex and difficult, and our reputation could be damaged if we fail, or appear to fail, to deal appropriately with one or more potential or actual conflicts of interest. Regulatory scrutiny, litigation or reputational risk incurred in connection with conflicts of interest would adversely affect our business in a number of ways and may adversely affect our results of operations. Reputational risk incurred in connection with conflicts of interest could negatively affect our financial condition and business, strain our working relationships with regulators and government agencies, expose us to litigation and regulatory action, impact our ability to attract and retain customers, trading counterparties, investors and employees and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

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Reputational risk from negative public opinion is inherent in our business and can result from a number of factors. Negative public opinion can result from our actual or alleged conduct in any number of activities, including lending and debt collection practices, corporate governance, and actions taken by government regulators and community organizations in response to those activities. Negative public opinion can also result from social media and media coverage, whether accurate or not. These factors could tarnish or otherwise strain our working relationships with regulators and government agencies, expose us to litigation and regulatory action, negatively affect our ability to attract and retain customers, trading and financing counterparties and employees and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

PCM and PLS both have limited liability and indemnity rights.

Our agreements with PCM and PLS provide that PCM and PLS will not assume any responsibility other than to provide the services specified in the applicable agreements. Our management agreement further provides that PCM will not be responsible for any action of our board of trustees in following or declining to follow its advice or recommendations. In addition, each of PCM and PLS and their respective affiliates, including each such entity’s managers, officers, trustees, directors, employees and members, will be held harmless from, and indemnified by us against, certain liabilities on customary terms. As a result, to the extent we are damaged through certain actions or inactions of PCM or PLS, our recourse is limited and we may not be able to recover our losses.

Risks Related to Our Business

Regulatory Risks

We operate in a highly regulated industry and the continually changing federal, state and local laws and regulations could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We are required to comply with a wide array of federal, state and local laws and regulations that regulate, among other things, the manner in which we conduct our loan production and servicing businesses. These regulations directly impact our business and require constant compliance, monitoring and internal and external audits. 

Federal, state and local governments have proposed or enacted numerous new laws, regulations and rules related to mortgage loans. Laws, regulations, rules and judicial and administrative decisions relating to mortgage loans include those pertaining to real estate settlement procedures, equal credit opportunity, fair lending, fair credit reporting, truth in lending, fair debt collection practices, service members protections, compliance with net worth and financial statement delivery requirements, compliance with federal and state disclosure and licensing requirements, the establishment of maximum interest rates, finance charges and other charges, qualified mortgages, licensing of loan officers and other personnel, loan officer compensation, secured transactions, property valuations, servicing transfers, payment processing, escrow, communications with consumers, loss mitigation, collection, foreclosure, bankruptcies, repossession and claims-handling procedures, and other trade practices and privacy regulations providing for the use and safeguarding of non-public personal financial information of borrowers. PLS and service providers it uses, including outside counsel retained to process foreclosures and bankruptcies, must also comply with some of these legal requirements.

Our failure or the failure of PLS to operate effectively and in compliance with these laws, regulations and rules could subject us to lawsuits or governmental actions and damage our reputation, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, our failure or the failure of PLS to comply with these laws, regulations and rules may result in increased costs of doing business, reduced payments by borrowers, modification of the original terms of mortgage loans, permanent forgiveness of debt, delays in the foreclosure process, increased servicing advances, litigation, reputational damage, enforcement actions, and repurchase and indemnification obligations. Our failure or the failure of PLS to adequately supervise service providers may also have these negative results.

The failure of the mortgage lenders from whom loans were acquired through our correspondent production activities to comply with any applicable laws, regulations and rules may also result in these adverse consequences. PLS has in place a due diligence program designed to assess areas of risk with respect to these acquired loans, including, without limitation, compliance with underwriting guidelines and applicable laws or regulations. However, PLS may not detect every violation of law by these mortgage lenders. Further, to the extent any third party originators or servicers with whom we do business fail to comply with applicable laws or regulations and any of their mortgage loans or MSRs become part of our assets, it could subject us, as an assignee or purchaser of the related mortgage loans or MSRs, to monetary penalties or other losses. In general, if any of our loans are found to have been originated, acquired or serviced by us or a third party in violation of applicable laws or regulations, we could be subject to lawsuits or governmental actions, or we could be fined or incur losses. While we may have contractual rights to seek indemnity or repurchase from certain of these lenders and third party originators and servicers, if any of them is unable to fulfill its indemnity or repurchase obligations to us to a material extent, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders could be materially and adversely affected.

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The CFPB is active in its monitoring of the residential mortgage origination and servicing sectors. Revised rules and regulations and more stringent enforcement of existing rules and regulations by the CFPB could result in enforcement actions, fines, penalties and the inherent reputational harm that results from such actions.

 

Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB is empowered with broad supervision, rulemaking and examination authority to enforce laws involving consumer financial products and services and to ensure, among other things, that consumers receive clear and accurate disclosures regarding financial products and are protected from hidden fees and unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices. The CFPB has adopted a number of final regulations under the Dodd-Frank Act regarding truth in lending, “ability to repay,” home mortgage loan disclosure, home mortgage loan origination, fair credit reporting, fair debt collection practices, foreclosure protections, and mortgage servicing rules, including provisions regarding loss mitigation, early intervention, periodic statement requirements and lender-placed insurance.  

 

The CFPB also has enforcement authority with respect to the conduct of third-party service providers of financial institutions. The CFPB has made it clear that it expects non-bank entities to maintain an effective process for managing risks associated with third-party vendor relationships, including compliance-related risks. In connection with this vendor risk management process, we are expected to perform due diligence reviews of potential vendors, review vendors’ policies and procedures and internal training materials to confirm compliance-related focus, include enforceable consequences in contracts with vendors regarding failure to comply with consumer protection requirements, and take prompt action, including terminating the relationship, in the event that vendors fail to meet our expectations. The CFPB is also applying scrutiny to compensation payments to third-party providers for marketing services and may issue guidance that narrows the range of acceptable payments to third-party providers as part of marketing services agreements, lead generation agreements and other third-party marketer relationships.

 

In addition to its supervision and examination authority, the CFPB is authorized to conduct investigations to determine whether any person is engaging in, or has engaged in, conduct that violates federal consumer financial protection laws, and to initiate enforcement actions for such violations, regardless of its direct supervisory authority. Investigations may be conducted jointly with other regulators. In furtherance of its supervision and examination powers, the CFPB has the authority to impose monetary penalties for violations of applicable federal consumer financial laws, require remediation of practices and pursue administrative proceedings or litigation for violations of applicable federal consumer financial laws. The CFPB also has the authority to obtain cease and desist orders (which can include orders for restitution or rescission of contracts, as well as other kinds of affirmative relief) and monetary penalties ranging from $5,000 per day for ordinary violations of federal consumer financial laws to $25,000 per day for reckless violations and $1 million per day for knowing violations.

 

Rules and regulations promulgated under the Dodd-Frank Act or by the CFPB, uncertainty regarding recent changes in leadership (including interim leadership) or authority levels within the CFPB, and actions taken or not taken by the CFPB could result in heightened federal and state regulation and oversight of our business activities, materially and adversely affect the manner in which we conduct our business, and increase costs and potential litigation associated with our business activities. Our or PLS’ failure to comply with the laws, rules or regulations to which we are subject, whether actual or alleged, would expose us or PLS to fines, penalties or potential litigation liabilities, including costs, settlements and judgments, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our or PLS’ business, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We are highly dependent on the Agencies and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”), as the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and any changes in these entities or their current roles could materially and adversely affect our business, liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.

Our ability to generate revenues through mortgage loan sales depends to a significant degree on programs administered by the Agencies and others that facilitate the issuance of MBS in the secondary market. These Agencies play a critical role in the mortgage industry and we have significant business relationships with them. Presently, almost all of the newly originated conforming loans that we acquire from mortgage lenders through our correspondent production activities qualify under existing standards for inclusion in mortgage securities backed by the Agencies. We also derive other material financial benefits from these relationships, including the assumption of credit risk by these Agencies on loans included in such mortgage securities in exchange for our payment of guarantee fees, our retention of such credit risk through structured transactions that lower our guarantee fees, and the ability to avoid certain loan inventory finance costs through streamlined loan funding and sale procedures.

The disposition of the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac continues to be debated between the U.S. Congress and the executive branch of the U.S. federal government. Any changes in laws and regulations affecting the relationship between Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the U.S. federal government could adversely affect our business and prospects. Although the U.S. Treasury has committed capital to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, these actions may not be adequate for their needs. If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are adversely affected by events such as ratings downgrades, inability to obtain necessary government funding, lack of success in resolving repurchase demands to lenders, foreclosure problems and delays and problems with mortgage insurers, they could suffer

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losses and fail to honor their guarantees and other obligations. Any discontinuation of, or significant reduction in, the operation of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or any significant adverse change in their capital structure, financial condition, activity levels in the primary or secondary mortgage markets or underwriting criteria could materially and adversely affect our business, liquidity, financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

The roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could be significantly restructured, reduced or eliminated and the nature of the guarantees could be considerably limited relative to historical measurements. Elimination of the traditional roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or any changes to the nature or extent of the guarantees provided by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or the fees, terms and guidelines that govern our selling and servicing relationships with them, such as increases in the guarantee fees we are required to pay, initiatives that increase the number of repurchase demands and/or the manner in which they are pursued, or possible limits on delivery volumes imposed upon us and other sellers/servicers, could also materially and adversely affect our business, including our ability to sell and securitize loans that we acquire through our correspondent production activities, and the performance, liquidity and market value of our investments. Moreover, any changes to the nature of the GSEs or their guarantee obligations could redefine what constitutes an Agency MBS and could have broad adverse implications for the market and our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Our ability to generate revenues from newly originated loans that we acquire through our correspondent production activities is also highly dependent on the fact that the Agencies have not historically acquired such loans directly from mortgage lenders, but have instead relied on banks and non-bank aggregators such as us to acquire, aggregate and securitize or otherwise sell such loans to investors in the secondary market. Certain of the Agencies have approved new and smaller lenders that traditionally may not have qualified for such approvals. To the extent that these lenders choose to sell directly to the Agencies rather than through loan aggregators like us, this reduces the number of loans available for purchase, and it could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders. Similarly, to the extent the Agencies increase the number of purchases and sales for their own accounts, our business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

We and/or PLS are required to have various Agency approvals and state licenses in order to conduct our business and there is no assurance we and/or PLS will be able to obtain or maintain those Agency approvals or state licenses.

Because we and PLS are not federally chartered depository institutions, neither we nor PLS benefits from exemptions to state mortgage lending, loan servicing or debt collection licensing and regulatory requirements. Accordingly, PLS is licensed, or is taking steps to become licensed, in those jurisdictions, and for those activities, where it is required to be licensed and believes it is cost effective and appropriate to become licensed.

Our failure or the failure by PLS to obtain any necessary licenses, comply with applicable licensing laws or satisfy the various requirements to maintain them over time could restrict our direct business activities, result in litigation or civil and other monetary penalties, or cause us to default under certain of our lending arrangements, any of which could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We and PLS are also required to hold the Agency approvals in order to sell mortgage loans to the Agencies and service such mortgage loans on their behalf. Our failure, or the failure of PLS, to satisfy the various requirements necessary to maintain such Agency approvals over time would also restrict our direct business activities and could adversely impact our business.

In addition, we and PLS are subject to periodic examinations by federal and state regulators, which can result in increases in our administrative costs, and we or PLS may be required to pay substantial penalties imposed by these regulators due to compliance errors, or we or PLS may lose our licenses. Negative publicity or fines and penalties incurred in one jurisdiction may cause investigations or other actions by regulators in other jurisdictions and could adversely impact our business.

Our or our Servicer’s inability to meet certain net worth and liquidity requirements imposed by the Agencies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operation.

We and our servicers are subject to minimum financial eligibility requirements for Agency mortgage sellers/servicers and MBS issuers, as applicable. These eligibility requirements align the minimum financial requirements for mortgage sellers/servicers and MBS issuers to do business with the Agencies. These minimum financial requirements, which are described in Liquidity and Capital Resources, include net worth, capital ratio and/or liquidity criteria in order to set a minimum level of capital needed to adequately absorb potential losses and a minimum amount of liquidity needed to service Agency mortgage loans and MBS and cover the associated financial obligations and risks.

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In order to meet these minimum financial requirements, we and our Servicer are required to maintain cash and cash equivalents in amounts that may adversely affect our or its business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders, and this could significantly impede us and our Servicer, as non-bank mortgage lenders, from growing our respective businesses and place us at a competitive disadvantage in relation to federally chartered banks and certain other financial institutions. To the extent that such minimum financial requirements are not met, the Agencies may suspend or terminate Agency approval or certain agreements with us or our Servicer, which could cause us or our Servicer to cross default under financing arrangements and/or have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Mortgage loan modification and refinance programs, future legislative action, and other actions and changes may materially and adversely affect the value of, and the returns on, the assets in which we invest.

The U.S. government, primarily through the FHA and the Agencies, has established loan modification and refinance programs designed to provide homeowners with assistance in avoiding residential mortgage loan foreclosures. We can provide no assurance that we will be eligible to use any government programs or, if eligible, that we will be able to utilize them successfully. Further, the incentives provided by such programs may increase competition for, and the pricing of, our targeted assets. These programs, future U.S. federal, state and/or local legislative or regulatory actions that result in the modification of outstanding mortgage loans, as well as changes in the requirements necessary to qualify for modifications or refinancing mortgage loans with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae may adversely affect the value of, and the returns on, residential mortgage loans, residential MBS, real estate-related securities and various other asset classes in which we invest.

Compliance with changing regulation of corporate governance and public disclosure has resulted, and will continue to result, in increased compliance costs and pose challenges for our Manager’s management team.

Changing federal and state laws, regulations and standards relating to corporate governance and public disclosure, including the Dodd-Frank Act and the rules, regulations and agencies promulgated thereunder, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and SEC regulations, have created uncertainty for public companies and significantly increased the compliance requirements, costs and risks associated with accessing the U.S. public markets. Our manager’s management team has and will continue to devote significant time and financial resources to comply with both existing and evolving standards for public companies; however, this will continue to lead to increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management time and attention from revenue generating activities to compliance activities.

We cannot predict whether there will be additional proposed laws or reforms that would affect us, whether or when such changes may be adopted, how such changes may be interpreted and enforced or how such changes may affect us. However, the costs of complying with any additional laws or regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Market Risks

A prolonged economic slowdown, recession or declining real estate values could materially and adversely affect us.

The risks associated with our investments are more acute during periods of economic slowdown or recession, especially if these periods are accompanied by high unemployment and declining real estate values. A weakening economy, high unemployment and declining real estate values significantly increase the likelihood that borrowers will default on their debt service obligations and that we will incur losses on our investments in the event of a default on a particular investment because the fair value of any collateral we foreclose upon may be insufficient to cover the full amount of such investment or may require a significant amount of time to realize. These factors may also increase the likelihood of re-default rates even after we have completed loan modifications. Any period of increased payment delinquencies, foreclosures or losses could adversely affect the net interest income generated from our portfolio and our ability to make and finance future investments, which would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Difficult conditions in the mortgage, real estate and financial markets and the economy generally may adversely affect the performance and fair value of our investments.

The success of our business strategies and our results of operations are materially affected by current conditions in the mortgage markets, the financial markets and the economy generally. Continuing concerns over factors including inflation, deflation, unemployment, personal and business income taxes, healthcare, energy costs, geopolitical issues, the availability and cost of credit, the mortgage markets and the real estate markets have contributed to increased volatility and unclear expectations for the economy and markets going forward. The mortgage markets have been and continue to be affected by changes in the lending landscape, defaults, credit losses and significant liquidity concerns. A destabilization of the real estate and mortgage markets or deterioration in

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these markets may adversely affect the performance and fair value of our investments, reduce our loan production volume, reduce the profitability of servicing mortgages or adversely affect our ability to sell mortgage loans that we acquire, either at a profit or at all. Any of the foregoing could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

A disruption in the MBS market could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In our correspondent production activities, we deliver newly originated Agency-eligible mortgage loans that we acquire to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to be pooled into Agency MBS securities or transfer government loans that we acquire to PLS, which pools them into Ginnie Mae MBS securities. Disruptions in the general MBS market have occurred in the past. Any significant disruption or period of illiquidity in the general MBS market would directly affect our liquidity because no existing alternative secondary market would likely be able to accommodate on a timely basis the volume of loans that we typically acquire and sell in any given period. Accordingly, if the MBS market experiences a period of illiquidity, we might be prevented from selling the loans that we acquire into the secondary market in a timely manner or at favorable prices or we may be required to repay a portion of the debt securing these assets, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We finance our investments with borrowings, which may materially and adversely affect our return on our investments and may reduce cash available for distribution to our shareholders.

We currently leverage and, to the extent available, we intend to continue to leverage our investments through borrowings, the level of which may vary based on the particular characteristics of our investment portfolio and on market conditions. We have financed certain of our investments through repurchase agreements, pursuant to which we sell securities or mortgage loans to lenders (i.e., repurchase agreement counterparties) and receive cash from the lenders. The lenders are obligated to resell the same assets back to us at the end of the term of the transaction. Because the cash we receive from the lender when we initially sell the assets to the lender is less than the fair value of those assets (this difference is referred to as the haircut), if the lender defaults on its obligation to resell the same assets back to us we could incur a loss on the transaction equal to the amount of the haircut reduced by interest accrued on the financing (assuming there was no change in the fair value of the assets). In addition, repurchase agreements generally allow the counterparties, to varying degrees, to determine a new fair value of the collateral to reflect current market conditions. If a counterparty lender determines that the fair value of the collateral has decreased, it may initiate a margin call and require us to either post additional collateral to cover such decrease or repay a portion of the outstanding borrowing. Should this occur, in order to obtain cash to satisfy a margin call, we may be required to liquidate assets at a disadvantageous time, which could cause us to incur further losses. In the event we are unable to satisfy a margin call, our counterparty may sell the collateral, which may result in significant losses to us.

 

In addition, we invest in certain assets, including MSRs and ESS, for which financing has historically been difficult to obtain. We currently leverage certain of our MSRs and ESS under secured financing arrangements. Our Freddie Mac MSRs are pledged to secure borrowings under a loan and security agreement, while our Fannie Mae MSRs are pledged to a special purpose entity, which issues variable funding notes and may, in the future, issue term notes that are secured by such Fannie Mae MSRs and repaid through the cash flows received by the special purpose entity as the lender under a repurchase agreement with PMC.

 

Our Ginnie Mae ESS is sold under a repurchase agreement to PLS as part of a structured finance transaction. PLS, in turn, pledges our Ginnie Mae ESS along with all of its Ginnie Mae MSRs under a repurchase agreement to a special purpose entity, which issues variable funding notes and term notes that are secured by such Ginnie Mae assets. The notes are repaid through the cash flows received by the special purpose entity as the lender under its repurchase agreement with PLS, which, in turn, receives cash flows from us under our repurchase agreement secured by the Ginnie Mae ESS. In each case, similar to our repurchase agreements, the cash that we receive under these secured financing arrangements is less than the fair value of the assets and a decrease in the value of the pledged collateral can result in a margin call. Should a margin call occur, we may be required to liquidate assets at a disadvantageous time, which could cause us to incur further losses. If we are unable to satisfy a margin call, the secured parties may sell the collateral, which may result in significant losses to us.

 

Each of the secured financing arrangements pursuant to which we finance MSRs and ESS is further subject to the terms of an acknowledgement agreement with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae, as applicable, pursuant to which our and the secured parties’ rights are subordinate in all respects to the rights of the applicable Agency. Accordingly, the exercise by either Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or Ginnie Mae of its rights under the applicable acknowledgment agreement, including at the direction of the secured parties or as a result of any action or inaction of PLS and whether or not we are in breach of our repurchase agreement with PLS, could result in the extinguishment of our and the secured parties’ rights in the related collateral and result in significant losses to us.

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Our repurchase agreements to finance nonperforming loans and other distressed mortgage assets are complex and difficult to manage. This is due in part to the nature of the underlying assets securing such financings, which do not produce consistent cash flows and which require specific activities to be performed at specific points in time in order to preserve value. Our inability to comply with the terms and conditions of these facilities could materially and adversely impact us.

We may in the future utilize other sources of borrowings, including term loans, bank credit facilities and structured financing arrangements, among others. The amount of leverage we employ varies depending on the asset class being financed, our available capital, our ability to obtain and access financing arrangements with lenders and the lenders’ and rating agencies’ estimate of, among other things, the stability of our investment portfolio’s cash flow.

Our return on our investments and cash available for distribution to our shareholders may be reduced to the extent that changes in market conditions increase the cost of our financing relative to the income that can be derived from the investments acquired. Our debt service payments also reduce cash flow available for distribution to shareholders. In the event we are unable to meet our debt service obligations, we risk the loss of some or all of our assets to foreclosure or sale to satisfy the obligations.

Our credit and financing agreements contain financial and restrictive covenants that could adversely affect our financial condition and our ability to operate our businesses.

Although our governing documents contain no limitation on the amount of debt we may incur, the lenders under our repurchase agreements require us and/or our subsidiaries to comply with various financial covenants, including those relating to tangible net worth, profitability and our ratio of total liabilities to tangible net worth. Our lenders also require us to maintain minimum amounts of cash or cash equivalents sufficient to maintain a specified liquidity position. If we are unable to maintain these liquidity levels, we could be forced to sell additional investments at a loss and our financial condition could deteriorate rapidly.

Our existing credit and financing agreements also impose other financial and non‑financial covenants and restrictions on us that impact our flexibility to determine our operating policies and investment strategies by limiting our ability to incur certain types of indebtedness; grant liens; engage in consolidations, mergers and asset sales, make restricted payments and investments; and enter into transactions with affiliates. In our credit and financing agreements, we agree to certain covenants and restrictions and we make representations about the assets sold or pledged under these agreements. We also agree to certain events of default (subject to certain materiality thresholds and grace periods), including payment defaults, breaches of financial and other covenants and/or certain representations and warranties, cross-defaults, servicer termination events, ratings downgrades, guarantor defaults, bankruptcy or insolvency proceedings and other events of default and remedies customary for these types of agreements. If we default on our obligations under a credit or financing agreement, fail to comply with certain covenants and restrictions or breach our representations and are unable to cure, the lender may be able to terminate the transaction or its commitments, accelerate any amounts outstanding, require us to post additional collateral or repurchase the assets, and/or cease entering into any other credit transactions with us.

Because our credit and financing agreements typically contain cross‑default provisions, a default that occurs under any one agreement could allow the lenders under our other agreements to also declare a default, thereby exposing us to a variety of lender remedies, such as those described above, and potential losses arising therefrom. Any losses that we incur on our credit and financing agreements could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

As the servicer of the assets subject to our repurchase agreements, PLS is also subject to various financial covenants, including those relating to tangible net worth, liquidity, profitability and its ratio of total liabilities to tangible net worth. PLS’ failure to comply with any of these covenants would generally result in a servicer termination event or event of default under one or more of our repurchase agreements. Thus, in addition to relying upon PCM to manage our financial covenants, we rely upon PLS to manage its own financial covenants in order to ensure our compliance with our repurchase agreements and our continued access to liquidity and capital. A servicer termination event or event of default resulting from PLS’ breach of its financial or other covenants could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to shareholders.

Until non-recourse long-term financing structures become more readily available to us and we utilize them, we rely heavily on short-term repurchase and loan and security agreements with maturities that do not match the assets being financed and are thus exposed to risks which could result in losses to us.

We have used and, in the future, may use securitization and other non-recourse long-term financing for our investments. In such structures, our lenders typically have only a claim against the assets included in the securitizations rather than a general claim against us as an entity. Such long-term financing has been limited and, in certain instances, unavailable for certain of our investments. Prior to any such future financing, we generally finance our investments with relatively short-term facilities until a sufficient portfolio is accumulated or such financing becomes available. As a result, we are subject to the risks that we would not be able to obtain suitable non-recourse long-term financing or otherwise acquire, during the period that any short-term facilities are available, sufficient eligible assets or securities to maximize the efficiency of a securitization.

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We also bear the risk that we would not be able to obtain new short-term facilities or would not be able to renew any short-term facilities after they expire should we need more time to obtain long-term financing or seek and acquire sufficient eligible assets or securities for a future securitization. If we are unable to obtain and renew short-term facilities or to consummate securitizations to finance our investments on a long-term basis, we may be required to seek other forms of potentially less attractive financing or to liquidate assets at an inopportune time or unfavorable price. In addition, conditions in the capital markets may make the issuance of any securitization less attractive to us even when we do have sufficient eligible assets or securities. While we would intend to retain the unrated equity component of securitizations and, therefore, still have exposure to any investments included in such securitizations, our inability to enter into such securitizations may increase our overall exposure to risks associated with direct ownership of such investments, including the risk of default.

We may not be able to raise the debt or equity capital required to finance our assets and grow our businesses.

The growth of our businesses requires continued access to debt and equity capital that may or may not be available on favorable terms or at the desired times, or at all. In addition, we invest in certain assets, including distressed loans and REO, as well as MSRs and ESS, for which financing has historically been difficult to obtain. Our inability to continue to maintain debt financing for distressed loans and REO, or MSRs and ESS, could require us to seek equity capital that may be more costly or unavailable to us.

We are also dependent on a limited number of banking institutions that extend us credit on terms that we have determined to be commercially reasonable. These banking institutions are subject to their own regulatory supervision, liquidity and capital requirements, risk management frameworks and risk thresholds and tolerances, any of which may change materially and negatively impact their willingness to extend credit to us specifically or mortgage lenders and servicers generally. Such actions may increase our cost of capital and limit or otherwise eliminate our access to capital, in which case our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders would be materially and adversely affected.

In addition, our ability to finance ESS relating to Ginnie Mae MSRs is currently dependent on pass through financing we obtain through our Servicer, which retains the MSRs associated with the ESS we acquire. After our initial acquisition of ESS, we then finance the acquired ESS with our Servicer under an underlying loan and security agreement, and our Servicer, in turn, re-pledges the ESS (along with the related MSRs it retains) to a third party lender under a master repurchase agreement. There can be no assurance that our Servicer will continue to make this pass through financing available to us or that the third party lender will continue to either permit our Servicer to provide such pass through financing to us or otherwise provide financing to our Servicer for MSRs and ESS.

This financing arrangement also subjects us to the credit risk of PLS. To the extent PLS does not apply our payments of principal and interest under the loan and security agreement to the allocable portion of its borrowings under the master repurchase agreement, or to the extent PLS otherwise defaults under the master repurchase agreement, our ESS would be at a risk of total loss. In addition, we provide a guarantee to the third party lender for the amount of borrowings under the master repurchase agreement that are allocable to the pass through financing of our ESS. In the event we are unable to satisfy our obligations under the guaranty following a default by PLS, this could cause us to default under other financing arrangements and/or have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We cannot assure you that we will have access to any debt or equity capital on favorable terms or at the desired times, or at all. Our inability to raise such capital or obtain financing on favorable terms could materially and adversely impact our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to shareholders.

In addition, we have been authorized to repurchase up to $300 million of our common shares pursuant to a share repurchase program approved by our board of trustees. As of December 31, 2017, we had $94.1 million of our common shares remaining under the current board authorization, and we may continue to repurchase shares to the extent we believe it is in the Company’s best interest to do so. Increased activity in our share repurchase program will have the effect of reducing our common shares outstanding, market value and shareholders’ equity, any or all of which could adversely affect the assessment by our lenders, credit providers or other counterparties regarding our net worth and, therefore, negatively impact our ability to raise new capital.

Future issuances of debt securities, which would rank senior to our common shares, and future issuances of equity securities, which would dilute the holdings of our existing shareholders and may be senior to our common shares, may materially and adversely affect the market price of our common shares.

In order to grow our business, we may rely on additional common and preferred equity issuances, which may rank senior and/or be dilutive to our current shareholders, or on less efficient forms of debt financing that rank senior to our shareholders and require a larger portion of our cash flow from operations, thereby reducing funds available for our operations, future business opportunities, cash distributions to our shareholders and other purposes.

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During March 2017, we issued 4,600,000 of 8.125% Series A Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 par value per share. During July 2017, we also issued 7,800,000 of 8.00% Series B Fixed-to-Floating Rate Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Shares of Beneficial Interest, $0.01 par value per share. Our outstanding preferred shares have preferences on distribution payments, including liquidating distributions, which could limit our ability to make distributions, including liquidating distributions, to holders of our common shares.

In 2013, our wholly-owned subsidiary, PMC, issued $250 million of Exchangeable Notes that are exchangeable under certain circumstances for our common shares. Upon liquidation, holders of our debt securities and other loans would receive a distribution of our available assets before holders of our common shares and holders of the Exchangeable Notes could receive a distribution of PMC’s available assets before holders of our common shares.

Subject to applicable law, our board of trustees has the authority, without further shareholder approval, to issue additional debt, common shares and preferred shares on the terms and for the consideration it deems appropriate. We have issued, and/or intend to issue, additional common shares and securities convertible into, or exchangeable or exercisable for, common shares under our equity incentive plan. We have also filed a shelf registration statement, from which we have issued and may in the future issue additional common shares, including, without limitation, through our “at-the-market” equity program.

We also may issue from time to time additional common shares in connection with property, portfolio or business acquisitions and may grant demand or piggyback registration rights in connection with such issuances. Because our decision to issue securities in any future offering will depend on market conditions and other factors beyond our control, we cannot predict the effect, if any, of future issuances of our common shares, preferred shares or other equity-based securities or the prospect of such issuances on the market price of our common shares. Issuances of a substantial amount of such securities, or the perception that such issuances might occur, could depress the market price of our common shares.

Thus, holders of our common shares bear the risk that our future issuances of debt or equity securities or other borrowings will reduce the market price of our common shares and dilute their ownership in us.

Interest rate fluctuations could significantly decrease our results of operations and cash flows and the fair value of our investments.

Interest rates are highly sensitive to many factors, including governmental monetary and tax policies, domestic and international economic and political considerations and other factors beyond our control. Interest rate fluctuations present a variety of risks to our operations. Our primary interest rate exposures relate to the yield on our investments, their fair values and the financing cost of our debt, as well as any derivative financial instruments that we utilize for hedging purposes.

Changes in interest rates affect our net interest income, which is the difference between the interest income we earn on our interest earning investments and the interest expense we incur in financing these investments. Interest rate fluctuations resulting in our interest expense exceeding interest income may result in operating losses for us. An increase in prevailing interest rates could adversely affect the volume of newly originated mortgages available for purchase in our correspondent production activities.

Changes in the level of interest rates also may affect our ability to make investments, the value of our investments (including our pipeline of mortgage loan commitments) and any related hedging instruments, the value of newly originated loans acquired through our correspondent production segment, and our ability to realize gains from the disposition of assets. Changes in interest rates may also affect borrower default rates and may impact our ability to refinance or modify loans and/or to sell REO. In addition, with respect to the MSRs and ESS we own, decreasing interest rates may cause a large number of borrowers to refinance, which may result in the loss of any such mortgage servicing business and associated write-downs of such MSRs and ESS. Any such scenario could materially and adversely affect us.

We are subject to market risk and declines in credit quality and credit spreads, which may adversely affect investment income and cause realized and unrealized losses.

We are exposed to the credit markets and subject to the risk that we will incur losses due to adverse changes in credit spreads. Adverse changes to these spreads may occur due to changes in fiscal policy and the economic climate, the liquidity of a market or market segment, insolvency or financial distress of key market makers or participants, or changes in market perceptions of credit worthiness and/or risk tolerance.

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We are subject to risks associated with potential declines in our credit quality, credit quality related to specific issuers or specific industries, and a general weakening in the economy, all of which are typically reflected through credit spreads. Credit spread is the additional yield on fixed income securities above the risk-free rate (typically referenced as the yield on U.S. Treasury securities) that market participants require to compensate them for assuming credit, liquidity and/or prepayment risks. Credit spreads vary (i.e. increase or decrease) in response to the market’s perception of risk and liquidity in a specific issuer or specific sector and are influenced by the credit ratings, and the reliability of those ratings, published by external rating agencies. A decline in the quality of our investment portfolio as a result of adverse economic conditions or otherwise could cause additional realized and unrealized losses on our investments.

A decline in credit spreads could have an adverse effect on our investment income as we invest cash in new investments that may earn less than the portfolio’s average yield. An increase in credit spreads could have an adverse effect on the value of our investment portfolio by decreasing the fair values of the credit sensitive investments in our investment portfolio. Any such scenario could materially and adversely affect us.

Hedging against interest rate exposure may materially and adversely affect our results of operations and cash flows.

We pursue hedging strategies to reduce our exposure to changes in interest rates. Our hedging activity varies in scope based on the level of interest rates, the type of investments held, and changing market conditions. However, while we enter into such transactions seeking to reduce interest rate risk, unanticipated changes in interest rates may result in poorer overall investment performance than if we had not engaged in any such hedging transactions. Interest rate hedging may fail to protect or could adversely affect us because, among other things, it may not fully eliminate interest rate risk, it could expose us to counterparty and default risk that may result in greater losses or the loss of unrealized profits, and it will create additional expense, while any income it generates to offset losses may be limited by federal tax provisions applicable to REITs. Thus, hedging activity, while intended to limit losses, may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We utilize derivative financial instruments, which could subject us to risk of loss.

We utilize derivative financial instruments for hedging purposes, which may include swaps, options and futures. However, the prices of derivative financial instruments, including futures and options, are highly volatile, as are payments made pursuant to swap agreements. As a result, the cost of utilizing derivatives may reduce our income that would otherwise be available for distribution to shareholders or for other purposes, and the derivative instruments that we utilize may fail to effectively hedge our positions. We are also subject to credit risk with regard to the counterparties involved in the derivative transactions.

The use of derivative instruments is also subject to an increasing number of laws and regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act and its implementing regulations. These laws and regulations are complex, compliance with them may be costly and time consuming, and our failure to comply with any of these laws and regulations could subject us to lawsuits or government actions and damage our reputation, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

General Risks

Initiating new business activities or investment strategies or significantly expanding existing business activities or investment strategies may expose us to new risks and will increase our cost of doing business.

Initiating new business activities or investment strategies or significantly expanding existing business activities or investment strategies, such as our entry into multifamily production and non-delegated correspondent production or our acquisition of new mortgage or mortgage-related products, are ways to grow our businesses and respond to changing circumstances in our industry; however, they may expose us to new risks and regulatory compliance requirements. We cannot be certain that we will be able to manage these risks and compliance requirements effectively. Furthermore, our efforts may not succeed and any revenues we earn from any new or expanded business initiative or investment strategy may not be sufficient to offset the initial and ongoing costs of that initiative, which would result in a loss with respect to that initiative or strategy.

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We may not be able to successfully operate our business or generate sufficient operating cash flows to make or sustain distributions to our shareholders.

There can be no assurance that we will be able to generate sufficient cash to pay our operating expenses and make distributions to our shareholders. The results of our operations and our ability to make or sustain distributions to our shareholders depends on many factors, including the availability of attractive risk-adjusted investment opportunities that satisfy our investment strategies and our success in identifying and consummating them on favorable terms, the level and expected movement of home prices, the level and volatility of interest rates, readily accessible short-term and long-term financing on favorable terms, and conditions in the financial markets, real estate market and the economy, as to which no assurance can be given.

We also face substantial competition in acquiring attractive investments, both in our investment activities and correspondent production activities. While we try to diversify our investments among various types of mortgages and mortgage-related assets, the competition for such assets may compress margins and reduce yields, making it difficult for us to make investments with attractive risk-adjusted returns. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully transition out of investments producing lower returns into investments that produce better returns, or that we will not seek investments with greater risk to obtain the same level of returns. Any or all of these factors could cause the fair value of our investments to decline substantially and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Competition for mortgage assets may limit the availability of desirable investments and result in reduced risk-adjusted returns.

Our profitability depends, in part, on our ability to continue to acquire our targeted investments at favorable prices. As described in greater detail elsewhere in this Report, we compete in our investment activities with other mortgage REITs, specialty finance companies, private funds, banks, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, mutual funds, institutional investors, investment banking firms, depository institutions, governmental bodies and other entities, many of which focus on acquiring mortgage assets. Many of our competitors also have competitive advantages over us, including size, financial strength, access to capital, cost of funds, federal pre-emption and higher risk tolerance. Competition may result in fewer investments, higher prices, acceptance of greater risk, lower yields and a narrower spread of yields over our financing costs.

We may change our investment strategies and policies without shareholder consent, and this may materially and adversely affect the market value of our common shares and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

PCM is authorized by our board of trustees to follow very broad investment policies and, therefore, it has great latitude in determining the types of assets that are proper investments for us, as well as the individual investment decisions. In the future, PCM may make investments with lower rates of return than those anticipated under current market conditions and/or may make investments with greater risks to achieve those anticipated returns. Our board of trustees will periodically review our investment policies and our investment portfolio but will not review or approve each proposed investment by PCM unless it falls outside our investment policies or constitutes a related party transaction.

In addition, in conducting periodic reviews, our board of trustees will rely primarily on information provided to it by PCM. Furthermore, PCM may use complex strategies, and transactions entered into by PCM may be costly, difficult or impossible to unwind by the time they are reviewed by our board of trustees. We also may change our investment strategies and policies and targeted asset classes at any time without the consent of our shareholders, and this could result in our making investments that are different in type from, and possibly riskier than our current investments or the investments currently contemplated. Changes in our investment strategies and policies and targeted asset classes may expose us to new risks or increase our exposure to interest rate risk, counterparty risk, default risk and real estate market fluctuations, and this could materially and adversely affect the market value of our common shares and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Our correspondent production activities could subject us to increased risk of loss.

In our correspondent production activities, we acquire newly originated loans, including jumbo loans, from mortgage lenders and sell or securitize those loans to or through the Agencies or other third party investors. We also sell the resulting securities into the MBS markets. However, there can be no assurance that PLS will continue to be successful in operating this business on our behalf or that we will continue to be able to capitalize on these opportunities on favorable terms or at all. In particular, we have committed, and expect to continue to commit, capital and other resources to this operation; however, PLS may not be able to continue to source sufficient asset acquisition opportunities to justify the expenditure of such capital and other resources. In the event that PLS is unable to continue to source sufficient opportunities for this operation, there can be no assurance that we would be able to acquire such assets on favorable terms or at all, or that such assets, if acquired, would be profitable to us. In addition, we may be unable to finance the acquisition of these assets and/or may be unable to sell the resulting MBS in the secondary mortgage market on favorable terms or at all. We are also subject to the risk that the fair value of the acquired loans may decrease prior to their disposition. The occurrence of any one or more of these risks could adversely impact our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

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The success and growth of our correspondent production activities will depend, in part, upon PLS’ ability to adapt to and implement technological changes.

Our correspondent production activities are currently dependent, in part, upon the ability of PLS to effectively interface with our mortgage lenders and other third parties and to efficiently process loan fundings and closings. The correspondent production process is becoming more dependent upon technological advancement. Maintaining and improving new technology and becoming proficient with it may also require significant capital expenditures by PLS. PLS will have to continue to develop and invest in these technological capabilities to remain competitive and its failure to do so could adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We are not an approved Ginnie Mae issuer and servicer, and an increase in the percentage or amount of government loans we acquire could be detrimental to us.

We are not approved as a Ginnie Mae issuer and servicer. As a result, we are unable to produce or acquire Ginnie Mae MSRs and we earn significantly less income in connection with our acquisition of government loans as opposed to conventional loans. Further, market demand for government loans over conventional loans may increase or PLS may offer pricing to our approved correspondent sellers for government loans that is more competitive in the market than pricing for conventional loans, the result of which may be our acquisition of a greater proportion or amount of government loans. Any significant increase in the percentage or amount of government loans we acquire could adversely impact our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

The industry in which we operate is highly competitive, and is likely to become more competitive, and our inability to compete successfully or decreased margins resulting from increased competition could adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We operate in a highly competitive industry that could become even more competitive as a result of economic, legislative, regulatory and technological changes. Large commercial banks and savings institutions and other independent mortgage lenders and servicers are becoming increasingly competitive in the acquisition of newly originated mortgage loans. Many of these institutions have significantly greater resources and access to capital than we do, which may give them the benefit of a lower cost of funds. Additionally, our existing and potential competitors may decide to modify their business models to compete more directly with our correspondent production business. For example, non-bank loan servicers may try to leverage their servicing operations to develop or expand a correspondent production business. Since the withdrawal of a number of large participants from these markets following the financial crisis in 2008, there have been relatively few large non-bank participants; however, the loosening of regulatory standards could result in a significant investment of capital and attract more non-banks to participate. As more non-bank entities enter these markets and as more commercial banks aggressively compete, our correspondent production activities may generate lower volumes and/or margins.

The risk management efforts of our Manager may not be effective.

We could incur substantial losses and our business operations could be disrupted if our Manager is unable to effectively identify, manage, monitor, and mitigate financial risks, such as credit risk, interest rate risk, prepayment risk, liquidity risk, and other market-related risks, as well as operational and legal risks related to our business, assets, and liabilities. We also are subject to various other laws, regulations and rules that are not industry specific, including health and safety laws, environmental laws and other federal, state and local laws, regulations and rules in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Our Manager’s risk management policies, procedures, and techniques may not be sufficient to identify all of the risks to which we are exposed, mitigate the risks we have identified, or identify additional risks to which we may become subject in the future. Expansion of our business activities may also result in our being exposed to risks to which we have not previously been exposed or may increase our exposure to certain types of risks, and our Manager may not effectively identify, manage, monitor, and mitigate these risks as our business activity changes or increases.

We could be harmed by misconduct or fraud that is difficult to detect.

We are exposed to risks relating to misconduct by our employees, employees of PennyMac and its subsidiaries, contractors we use, or other third parties with whom we have relationships. For example, such employees could execute unauthorized transactions, use our assets improperly or without authorization, perform improper activities, use confidential information for improper purposes, or misrecord or otherwise try to hide improper activities from us. This type of misconduct could also relate to our assets managed by PCM. This type of misconduct can be difficult to detect and if not prevented or detected could result in claims or enforcement actions against us or losses. Accordingly, misconduct by the employees of PennyMac and its subsidiaries, contractors, or others could subject us to losses or regulatory sanctions and seriously harm our reputation. Our controls may not be effective in detecting this type of activity.

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If we fail to maintain an effective system of internal controls, we may not be able to accurately determine our financial results or prevent fraud.

Effective internal controls are necessary for us to provide reliable financial reports and effectively prevent fraud. We may in the future discover areas of our internal controls that need improvement. Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires us to evaluate and report on our internal control over financial reporting and have our independent auditors annually attest to our evaluation, as well as issue their own opinion on our internal control over financial reporting. While we have undertaken substantial work to comply with Section 404, we cannot be certain that we will be successful in maintaining adequate control over our financial reporting and financial processes. Furthermore, as we continue to grow our business, our internal controls will become more complex, and we will require significantly more resources to ensure our internal controls remain effective. If we or our independent auditors discover a material weakness, the disclosure of that fact, even if quickly remedied, could result in an event of default under one or more of our lending arrangements and/or reduce the market value of our common shares. Additionally, the existence of any material weakness or significant deficiency could require management to devote significant time and incur significant expense to remediate any such material weakness or significant deficiency, and management may not be able to remediate any such material weakness or significant deficiency in a timely manner, or at all. Accordingly, our failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in misstatements of our financial results or restatements of our financial statements or otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Cybersecurity risks, cyber incidents and technology failures may adversely affect our business by causing a disruption to our operations, a compromise or corruption of our confidential information, and/or damage to our business relationships, all of which could negatively impact our financial results.

A cyber incident is considered to be any adverse event that threatens the confidentiality, integrity or availability of our information resources. These incidents may be an intentional attack or an unintentional event and could involve gaining unauthorized access to our information systems for purposes of theft of certain personally identifiable information of consumers, misappropriating assets, stealing confidential information, corrupting data or causing operational disruption. The result of these incidents may include disrupted operations, misstated or unreliable financial data, liability for stolen assets or information, increased cybersecurity protection and insurance costs, litigation and damage to our investor relationships.

As our reliance on rapidly changing technology has increased, so have the risks posed to our information systems, both internal and those provided to us by third-party service providers.  System disruptions and failures caused by fire, power loss, telecommunications outages, unauthorized intrusion, computer viruses and disabling devices, natural disasters and other similar events may interrupt or delay our ability to provide services to our customers.

Despite efforts by our Manager to ensure the integrity of its systems; its investment in significant physical and technological security measures, employee training, contractual precautions and business continuity plans; and its implementation of policies and procedures designed to help mitigate cybersecurity risks and cyber intrusions, there can be no assurance that any such cyber intrusions will not occur or, if they do occur, that they will be adequately addressed. We also may not be able to anticipate or implement effective preventive measures against all security breaches, especially because the methods of attack change frequently or are not recognized until launched, and because security attacks can originate from a wide variety of sources, including third parties such as persons involved with organized crime or associated with external service providers. We are also held accountable for the actions and inactions of its third-party vendors regarding cybersecurity and other consumer-related matters.

Any of the foregoing events could result in violations of applicable privacy and other laws, financial loss to us or to our customers, loss of confidence in our security measures, customer dissatisfaction, additional regulatory scrutiny, significant litigation exposure and harm to our reputation, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war may cause disruptions in our operations and in the financial markets, and could materially and adversely affect the real estate industry generally and our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

 

Terrorist attacks and other acts of violence or war may cause disruptions in the U.S. financial markets, including the real estate capital markets, and negatively impact the U.S. economy in general. Such attacks could also cause disruptions in our operations. Any future terrorist attacks, the anticipation of any such attacks, the consequences of any military or other response by the United States and its allies, and other armed conflicts could cause consumer confidence and spending to decrease or result in increased volatility in the United States and worldwide financial markets and economy. The economic impact of these events could also materially and adversely affect the credit quality of some of our loans and investments and the properties underlying our interests.

 

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We may suffer losses as a result of the adverse impact of any future attacks and these losses may adversely impact our performance and may cause the market value of our common stock to decline or be more volatile. A prolonged economic slowdown, recession or declining real estate values could impair the performance of our investments and harm our financial condition and results of operations, increase our funding costs, limit our access to the capital markets or result in a decision by lenders not to extend credit to us. We cannot predict the severity of the effect that potential future armed conflicts and terrorist attacks would have on us. Losses resulting from these types of events may not be fully insurable.

Risks Related to Our Investments

Our retention of credit risk underlying mortgage loans we sell to Fannie Mae is inherently uncertain and exposes us to significant risk of loss.

In conjunction with our correspondent business, we have entered into CRT Agreements with Fannie Mae, whereby we sell pools of mortgage loans into Fannie Mae-guaranteed securitizations while retaining a portion of the credit risk and an interest-only (“IO”) ownership interest in such mortgage loans. Our retention of credit risk subjects us to risks associated with delinquency and foreclosure similar to the risks associated with owning the underlying mortgage loans, and exposes us to risk of loss greater than the risks associated with selling the mortgage loans to Fannie Mae without the retention of such credit risk. Further, the risks associated with delinquency and foreclosure may in some instances be greater than the risks associated with owning the underlying mortgage loans because the structure of certain of the CRT Agreements provides that we may be required to realize losses in the event of delinquency or foreclosure even where there is ultimately no loss realized with respect to the underlying loan (e.g., as a result of a borrower’s re-performance). In addition to the risks specific to credit, we are also exposed to market risk and, as a result of prevailing market conditions or the economy generally, may be required to incur unrealized losses associated with adverse changes to the fair value of the CRT Agreements. Any loss we incur may be significant and may reduce distributions to our shareholders and materially and adversely affect the market value of our common shares.

CRT Agreements also represent a type of investment that is new to the market and, as such, inherently uncertain and illiquid. There can be no assurance that this investment type will continue to be offered by Fannie Mae or supported by the FHFA or that it will produce the desired returns. Further, our projected returns are highly dependent on certain internal and external models, and it is uncertain whether such models are sufficiently accurate to support our projected returns and/or avoid potentially significant losses.

 

Our CRT Agreements may not be eligible REIT assets, may be required to be held in our TRS, and a significant portion of our income from these investments may therefore be subject to U.S. federal and state income taxation in order not to jeopardize our REIT status.

 

Although our CRT Agreements have been and will continue to be structured with the intention of satisfying our REIT qualification requirements, the REIT eligibility of the assets subject to the CRT Agreements and the income relating thereto remains uncertain. Accordingly, in general we currently hold such investments in our TRS, although we have on occasion based on the advice of tax advisors held such positions in the REIT and may do so in the future as well, depending on the precise structure of such investments and our level of certainty that such investments are in a form consistent with their characterization as qualifying assets for a REIT. If the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) were to take a position adverse to our interpretation, the consequences of such action could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

A significant portion of our investments is in the form of mortgage loans, and the mortgage loans in which we invest and the mortgage loans underlying the MBS in which we invest subject us to costs and losses arising from delinquency and foreclosure, as well as the risks associated with residential real estate and residential real estate-related investments, any of which could result in losses to us.

We have invested in performing and nonperforming residential mortgage loans and, through our correspondent production business, newly originated prime credit quality residential mortgage loans. Residential mortgage loans are typically secured by single-family residential property and are subject to risks and costs associated with delinquency and foreclosure and the resulting risks of loss. These risks are greater for nonperforming loans.

Our investments in mortgage loans and MBS also subject us to the risks of residential real estate and residential real estate-related investments, including, among others: (i) declines in the value of residential real estate; (ii) risks related to general and local economic conditions; (iii) lack of available mortgage funding for borrowers to refinance or sell their homes; (iv) overbuilding; (v) the general deterioration of the borrower’s ability to keep a rehabilitated nonperforming mortgage loan current; (vi) increases in property taxes and operating expenses; (vii) changes in zoning laws; (viii) costs resulting from the clean-up of, and liability to third parties for damages resulting from, environmental problems, such as indoor mold; (ix) casualty or condemnation losses; (x) uninsured damages from floods, earthquakes or other natural disasters; (xi) limitations on and variations in rents; (xii) fluctuations in interest rates; (xiii) fraud by borrowers, originators and/or sellers of mortgage loans; (xiv) undetected deficiencies and/or inaccuracies in underlying mortgage loan documentation and calculations; and (xv) failure of the borrower to adequately maintain the property, particularly

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during times of financial difficulty. To the extent that assets underlying our investments are concentrated geographically, by property type or in certain other respects, we may be subject to certain of the foregoing risks to a greater extent.

Additionally, we may be required to foreclose on a mortgage loan and such actions may subject us to greater concentration of the risks of the residential real estate markets and risks related to the ownership and management of real property. In the event of a foreclosure, we may assume direct ownership of the underlying real estate. The liquidation proceeds upon sale of such real estate may not be sufficient to recover our investment in the loan, resulting in a loss to us. In addition, the foreclosure process may be lengthy and expensive, and any delays or costs involved in the effectuation of a foreclosure of the loan or a liquidation of the underlying property may further reduce the proceeds and thus increase the loss.

In the event of the bankruptcy of a mortgage loan borrower, the mortgage loan to such borrower will be deemed to be secured only to the extent of the value of the underlying collateral at the time of bankruptcy (as determined by the bankruptcy court), and the lien securing the mortgage loan will be subject to the avoidance powers of the bankruptcy trustee or debtor-in-possession to the extent the lien is unenforceable under state law.

A significant portion of the residential mortgage loans that we hold are or may become nonperforming loans, which increases our risk of loss of our investment.

We historically acquired distressed residential mortgage loans and mortgage-related assets where the borrower had failed to make timely payments of principal and/or interest or where the loan was performing but subsequently could or did become nonperforming, and there are no limits on the percentage of nonperforming assets we may hold. A portion of these loans still have current loan-to-value ratios in excess of 100%, meaning the amount owed on the loan exceeds the value of the underlying real estate. Further, the borrowers on such loans may be in economic distress and/or may have become unemployed, bankrupt or otherwise unable or unwilling to make payments when due. Moreover, as we continue to liquidate our portfolio of distressed mortgage loans and mortgage-related assets and transition into other investment types, the distressed assets remaining in our portfolio often entail characteristics that make disposition or liquidation more challenging, including, among other things, severe document deficiencies or underlying real estate located in states with extended foreclosure timelines. If PLS as our primary and special servicer is not able to adequately address or mitigate the issues concerning these loans, we may incur significant losses. Any loss we incur may be significant and may reduce distributions to our shareholders and materially and adversely affect the market value of our common shares.

Our acquisition of mortgage servicing rights exposes us to significant risks.

MSRs arise from contractual agreements between us and the investors (or their agents) in mortgage securities and mortgage loans that we service on their behalf. We generally acquire MSRs in connection with our sale of mortgage loans to the Agencies where we assume the obligation to service such loans on their behalf. We may also purchase MSRs from third-party sellers. Any MSRs we acquire are initially recorded at fair value on our balance sheet. The determination of the fair value of MSRs requires our management to make numerous estimates and assumptions. Such estimates and assumptions include, without limitation, estimates of future cash flows associated with MSRs based upon assumptions involving interest rates as well as the prepayment rates, delinquencies and foreclosure rates of the underlying serviced mortgage loans. The ultimate realization of the MSRs may be materially different than the values of such MSRs as may be reflected in our consolidated balance sheet as of any particular date. The use of different estimates or assumptions in connection with the valuation of these assets could produce materially different fair values for such assets, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. Accordingly, there may be material uncertainty about the fair value of any MSRs we acquire.

Prepayment speeds significantly affect MSRs. Prepayment speed is the measurement of how quickly borrowers pay down the unpaid principal balance of their loans or how quickly loans are otherwise brought current, modified, liquidated or charged off. We base the price we pay for MSRs and the rate of amortization of those assets on, among other things, our projection of the cash flows from the related pool of mortgage loans. Our expectation of prepayment speeds is a significant assumption underlying those cash flow projections. If prepayment speed expectations increase significantly, the fair value of the MSRs could decline and we may be required to record a non-cash charge, which would have a negative impact on our financial results. Furthermore, a significant increase in prepayment speeds could materially reduce the ultimate cash flows we receive from MSRs, and we could ultimately receive substantially less than what we paid for such assets. Moreover, delinquency rates have a significant impact on the valuation of any MSRs. An increase in delinquencies generally results in lower revenue because typically we only collect servicing fees from Agencies or mortgage owners for performing loans. Our expectation of delinquencies is also a significant assumption underlying our cash flow projections. If delinquencies are significantly greater than we expect, the estimated fair value of the MSRs could be diminished. When the estimated fair value of MSRs is reduced, we could suffer a loss, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

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Changes in interest rates are a key driver of the performance of MSRs. Historically, the fair value of MSRs has increased when interest rates rise and decreased when interest rates decline due to the effect those changes in interest rates have on prepayment estimates. We may pursue various hedging strategies to seek to reduce our exposure to adverse changes in fair value resulting from changes in interest rates. Our hedging activity will vary in scope based on the level and volatility of interest rates, the type of assets held and other changing market conditions. Interest rate hedging may fail to protect or could adversely affect us. To the extent we do not utilize derivative financial instruments to hedge against changes in fair value of MSRs or the derivatives we use in our hedging activities do not perform as expected, our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders would be more susceptible to volatility due to changes in the fair value of, or cash flows from, MSRs as interest rates change.

Furthermore, MSRs and the related servicing activities are subject to numerous federal, state and local laws and regulations and may be subject to various judicial and administrative decisions imposing various requirements and restrictions on our business. Our failure to comply, or the failure of the servicer to comply, with the laws, rules or regulations to which we or they are subject by virtue of ownership of MSRs, whether actual or alleged, could expose us to fines, penalties or potential litigation liabilities, including costs, settlements and judgments, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Our acquisition of excess servicing spread has exposed us to significant risks.

We have previously acquired from PLS the right to receive certain ESS arising from MSRs owned or acquired by PLS. The ESS represents the difference between PLS’ contractual servicing fee with the applicable Agency and a base servicing fee that PLS retains as compensation for servicing or subservicing the related mortgage loans pursuant to the applicable servicing contract.

Because the ESS is a component of the related MSR, the risks of owning the ESS are similar to the risks of owning an MSR. We also record our ESS assets at fair value, which is based on many of the same estimates and assumptions used to value our MSR assets, thereby creating the same potential for material differences between the recorded fair value of the ESS and the actual value that is ultimately realized. Also, the performance of our ESS assets are impacted by the same drivers as our MSR assets, namely interest rates, prepayment speeds and delinquency rates. Because of the inherent uncertainty in the estimates and assumptions and the potential for significant change in the impact of the drivers, there may be material uncertainty about the fair value of any ESS we acquire, and this could ultimately have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Further, as a condition to our purchase of the ESS, we were required to subordinate our interests to those of the applicable Agency. To the extent PLS fails to maintain its Agency approvals, such failure could result in PLS’ loss of the applicable MSR in its entirety, thereby extinguishing our interest in the related ESS. With respect to our ESS relating to PLS’ Ginnie Mae MSRs, we sold our interest in such ESS to PLS under a repurchase agreement and PLS, in turn, pledged such ESS along with its interest in all of its Ginnie Mae MSRs to a special purpose entity, which issues variable funding notes and term notes that are secured by such Ginnie Mae assets and repaid through the cash flows received by the special purpose entity as the lender under a repurchase agreement with PLS. Accordingly, our interest in the Ginnie Mae ESS is also subordinated to the rights of an indenture trustee on behalf of the note holders to which the special purpose entity issues its variable funding notes and term notes under an indenture, pursuant to which the indenture trustee has a blanket lien on all of PLS’ Ginnie Mae MSRs (including the ESS we acquired). The indenture trustee, on behalf of the note holders, may liquidate our Ginnie Mae ESS along with the related MSRs to the extent there exists an event of default under the indenture, the result of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders. In the event our ESS is liquidated as a result of certain actions or inactions of PLS, we may be entitled to seek indemnity under the applicable spread acquisition agreement; however, this would be an unsecured claim and, as a result, our loss of the ESS could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We cannot independently protect our MSR or ESS assets from borrower refinancing and are dependent upon PLS to do so for our benefit.

While PLS has agreed pursuant to the terms of an MSR recapture agreement to transfer cash to us in an amount equal to 30% of the fair value of the MSRs relating to mortgage loans it refinances, we are not independently capable of protecting our MSR asset from borrower refinancing through targeted solicitations to, and origination of, refinance loans for borrowers in our servicing portfolio. Accordingly, unlike traditional mortgage originators and many servicers, we must rely upon PLS to refinance mortgage loans in our servicing portfolio that would otherwise be targeted by other lenders. Historically, PLS has had limited success soliciting loans in our servicing portfolio, and there can be no assurance that PLS will either have or allocate the time and resources required to effectively and efficiently protect our MSR assets. Its failure to do so, or the termination of our MSR recapture agreement, could result in accelerated runoff of our MSR assets, decreasing its fair value and adversely impacting our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

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Similarly, while PLS has agreed pursuant to the terms of our spread acquisition agreements to transfer to us a portion of the ESS relating to mortgage loans it refinances, we are not independently capable of protecting our ESS asset from borrower refinancing by other lenders through targeted solicitations to, and origination of, refinance loans for borrowers in our portfolio of ESS. Accordingly, we must also rely upon PLS to refinance these mortgage loans that would otherwise be targeted by other lenders. There can be no assurance that PLS will either have or allocate the required time and resources or otherwise be capable of effectively and efficiently soliciting these mortgage loans. Its failure to do so, or the termination of our spread acquisition agreements, could result in accelerated repayment of the mortgage loans underlying our ESS assets, decreasing their value and adversely impacting our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Investments in subordinated loans and subordinated MBS could subject us to increased risk of losses.

Our investments in subordinated loans or subordinated MBS could subject us to increased risk of losses. In the event a borrower defaults on a subordinated loan and lacks sufficient assets to satisfy such loan, we may lose all or a significant part of our investment. In the event a borrower becomes subject to bankruptcy proceedings, we will not have any recourse to the assets, if any, of the borrower that are not pledged to secure our loan. If a borrower defaults on our subordinated loan or on its senior debt (i.e., a first-lien loan, in the case of a residential mortgage loan, or a contractually or structurally senior loan, in the case of a commercial mortgage loan), or in the event of a borrower bankruptcy, our subordinated loan will be satisfied only after all senior debt is paid in full. As a result, we may not recover all or even a significant part of our investment, which could result in losses. In the case of commercial mortgage loans where senior debt exists, the presence of intercreditor arrangements may also limit our ability to amend our loan documents, assign our loan, accept prepayments, exercise our remedies and control decisions made in bankruptcy proceedings relating to borrowers.

In general, losses on an asset securing a mortgage loan included in a securitization will be borne first by the equity holder of the property, then by a cash reserve fund or letter of credit provided by the borrower, if any, and then by the “first loss” subordinated security holder and then by the “second loss” subordinated security holder. In the event of default and the exhaustion of any equity support, reserve fund, letter of credit and any classes of securities junior to those in which we invest, we may not recover all or even a significant part of our investment, which could result in losses.

In addition, if the underlying mortgage portfolio has been serviced ineffectively by the loan servicer or overvalued by the originator, or if the fair values of the assets subsequently decline and, as a result, less collateral is available to satisfy interest and principal payments due on the related MBS, the securities in which we invest may suffer significant losses. The prices of these types of lower credit quality investments are generally more sensitive to adverse actual or perceived economic downturns or individual issuer developments than more highly rated investments. An economic downturn or a projection of an economic downturn, for example, could cause a decline in the price of lower credit quality investments because the ability of obligors to make principal and interest payments or to refinance may be impaired.

Our investments in commercial mortgage loans and other commercial real estate-related loans are dependent upon the success of the multifamily real estate market and may be affected by substantial competition in our market areas and other conditions that could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

The multifamily real estate market is a highly competitive business. We acquire mortgage loans secured by multifamily properties. The profitability of these investments will be closely tied to the overall success of and competition in the multifamily real estate market. Various changes in real estate conditions may impact the multifamily and commercial real estate sectors. Any negative trends in such real estate conditions may reduce the availability of attractive acquisition opportunities and the performance of our existing investments and, as a result, adversely affect our results of operations. These conditions include:

 

increased competition in the multifamily and commercial real estate sectors based on considerations such as the attractiveness, location, rental rates, amenities and safety record of various properties;

 

our ability to effectively compete in the multifamily real estate market;

 

oversupply of, or a reduction in demand for, multifamily housing and commercial properties;

 

a favorable single-family real estate or interest rate environment that may result in a significant number of potential residents of multifamily properties deciding to purchase homes instead of renting;

 

rent control or stabilization laws, or other laws regulating multifamily housing, which could affect the profitability of multifamily developments;

 

the inability of residents and tenants to pay rent; and

 

increased operating costs, including increased real property taxes, maintenance, insurance and utilities costs.

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Moreover, other factors may adversely affect the multifamily real estate market, including changes in government regulations and other laws, rules and regulations governing real estate, zoning or taxes, changes in the economy and interest rate levels, the potential liability under environmental and other laws, increases in delinquency and foreclosure rates, and other unforeseen events. Any or all of these factors could subject us to increased risk of loss, negatively impact the multifamily real estate market and, as a result, reduce the availability of attractive acquisition opportunities. Any such increased risk of loss or reduction in attractive acquisition opportunities could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

The failure of PLS or any other servicer to effectively service our portfolio of MSRs and mortgage loans would materially and adversely affect us.

Pursuant to our loan servicing agreement, PLS provides us with primary and special servicing. PLS’ loan servicing activities include collecting principal, interest and escrow account payments, if any, with respect to mortgage loans, as well as managing loss mitigation, which may include, among other things, collection activities, loan workouts, modifications, foreclosures, short sales and sales of REO. The ability of PLS or any other servicer or subservicer to effectively service our portfolio of mortgage loans is critical to our success, particularly given our large investment in MSRs and our strategy of maximizing the fair value of the distressed mortgage loans that we acquire through proprietary loan modification programs, special servicing and other initiatives focused on keeping borrowers in their homes; or in the case of nonperforming loans, effecting property resolutions in a timely, orderly and economically efficient manner. The failure of PLS or any other servicer or subservicer to effectively service our portfolio of MSRs and mortgage loans would adversely impact our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Our inability to promptly foreclose upon defaulted mortgage loans could increase our cost of doing business and/or diminish our expected return on investments.

Our ability to promptly foreclose upon defaulted mortgage loans and liquidate the underlying real property plays a critical role in our valuation of the assets in which we invest and our expected return on those investments. There are a variety of factors that may inhibit our ability, through PLS, to foreclose upon a mortgage loan and liquidate the real property within the time frames we model as part of our valuation process or within the statutes of limitation under applicable state law. These factors include, without limitation: extended foreclosure timelines in states that require judicial foreclosure, including states where we hold high concentrations of mortgage loans; significant collateral documentation deficiencies; federal, state or local laws that are borrower friendly, including legislative action or initiatives designed to provide homeowners with assistance in avoiding residential mortgage loan foreclosures and that serve to delay the foreclosure process; HAMP and similar programs that require specific procedures to be followed to explore the refinancing of a mortgage loan prior to the commencement of a foreclosure proceeding; and declines in real estate values and sustained high levels of unemployment that increase the number of foreclosures and place additional pressure on the judicial and administrative systems.

A decline in the fair value of the real estate underlying our mortgage loans or that we acquire, whether through foreclosure or otherwise, may result in reduced risk-adjusted returns or losses.

The fair value of the real estate that we own or that underlies mortgage loans that we own is subject to market conditions. Changes in the real estate market may adversely affect the fair value of the collateral and thereby lower the cash to be received from its liquidation. In addition, adverse changes in the real estate market increase the probability of default, as the incentive of the borrower to retain and protect its interest in the property declines.

We have also implemented an REO rental program, whereby we are the lessor of real estate, generally REO acquired in settlement of distressed loans, to the extent we determine that renting the property would produce a better return on investment than liquidation. There can be no assurance that this investment strategy will prove to be either profitable or more successful than liquidation. Further, our ongoing investment in the real estate will be subject to the market risk described above, as well as other risks associated with the rental business, including, without limitation, extended periods of vacancy, unfavorable landlord-tenant laws, and contractual disputes with our property managers. Any or all of these risks could subject us to loss, materially and adversely affect the fair value of our real estate investments and reduce or eliminate the returns we might have otherwise realized upon liquidation of the real estate.

We are subject to certain risks associated with investing in real estate and real estate related assets, including risks of loss from adverse weather conditions and man-made or natural disasters, which may cause disruptions in our operations and could materially and adversely affect the real estate industry generally and our business, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.

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Weather conditions and man-made or natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts, fires and other environmental conditions can damage properties that we own or that collateralize loans we own or service. In addition, the properties where we conduct business could be adversely impacted. Future adverse weather conditions and man-made or natural disasters could also adversely impact the demand for, and value of, our assets, as well as the cost to service or manage such assets, directly impact the value of our assets through damage, destruction or loss, and thereafter materially impact the availability or cost of insurance to protect against these events. Although we believe our owned real estate and the properties collateralizing our loan assets or underlying our MSR assets are adequately covered by insurance, we cannot predict at this time if we or our borrowers will be able to obtain appropriate coverage at a reasonable cost in the future, or if we will be able to continue to pass along all of the costs of insurance. In addition, there is a risk that one or more of the insurers of property on which we held an interest may not be able to fulfill their obligations with respect to claims payments due to a deterioration in its financial condition.

Certain types of losses, generally of a catastrophic nature, that result from events described above such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, terrorism or acts of war may also be uninsurable or not economically insurable. Inflation, changes in building codes and ordinances, environmental considerations and other factors, including terrorism or acts of war, also might make the insurance proceeds insufficient to repair or replace a property if it is damaged or destroyed. Under these circumstances, the insurance proceeds received might not be adequate to restore our economic position with respect to the affected real property. Any uninsured loss could result in the loss of cash flow from, and the asset value of, the affected property.

Many of our investments are unrated or, where any credit ratings are assigned to our investments, they will be subject to ongoing evaluations and revisions and we cannot assure you that those ratings will not be downgraded.

Many of our current investments are not, and many of our future investments will not be, rated by any rating agency. Therefore, PCM’s assessment of the fair value and pricing of our investments may be difficult and the accuracy of such assessment is inherently uncertain. However, certain of our investments may be rated. If rating agencies assign a lower-than expected rating or reduce or withdraw, or indicate that they may reduce or withdraw, their ratings of our investments in the future, the fair value of these investments could significantly decline, which would materially and adversely affect the fair value of our investment portfolio and could result in losses upon disposition or the failure of borrowers to satisfy their debt service obligations to us.

We may be materially and adversely affected by risks affecting borrowers or the asset or property types in which our investments may be concentrated at any given time, as well as from unfavorable changes in the related geographic regions.

Our assets are not subject to any geographic, diversification or concentration limitations except that we will be concentrated in mortgage-related investments. Accordingly, our investment portfolio may be concentrated by geography, asset, property type and/or borrower, increasing the risk of loss to us if the particular concentration in our portfolio is subject to greater risks or is undergoing adverse developments. In addition, adverse conditions in the areas where the properties securing or otherwise underlying our investments are located (including business layoffs or downsizing, industry slowdowns, changing demographics and other factors) and local real estate conditions (such as oversupply or reduced demand) may have an adverse effect on the value of our investments. A material decline in the demand for real estate in these areas may materially and adversely affect us. Concentration or a lack of diversification can increase the correlation of non-performance and foreclosure risks among our investments.

Many of our investments are illiquid and we may not be able to adjust our portfolio in response to changes in economic and other conditions.

Our investments in distressed mortgage loans, MSRs, ESS, CRT Agreements, commercial mortgage loans, securities and mortgage loans held in a consolidated variable interest entity may be illiquid. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible to obtain or validate third-party pricing on the investments we purchase. Illiquid investments typically experience greater price volatility, as a ready market does not exist, and can be more difficult to value. The contractual restrictions on transfer or the illiquidity of our investments may make it difficult for us to sell such investments if the need or desire arises which could impair our ability to satisfy margin calls or certain REIT tests. In addition, if we are required to liquidate all or a portion of our portfolio quickly, we may realize significantly less than the recorded value, or may not be able to obtain any liquidation proceeds at all, thus exposing us to a material or total loss.

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Fair values of many of our investments are estimates and the realization of reduced values from our recorded estimates may materially and adversely affect periodic reported results and credit availability, which may reduce earnings and, in turn, cash available for distribution to our shareholders.

The fair values of some of our investments are not readily determinable. We measure the fair value of these investments monthly, but the fair value at which our assets are recorded may differ from the values we ultimately realize. Ultimate realization of the fair value of an asset depends to a great extent on economic and other conditions that change during the time period over which the investment is held and are beyond the control of PCM, us or our board of trustees. Further, fair value is only an estimate based on good faith judgment of the price at which an investment can be sold since transacted prices of investments can only be determined by negotiation between a willing buyer and seller. In certain cases, PCM’s estimation of the fair value of our investments includes inputs provided by third-party dealers and pricing services, and valuations of certain securities or other assets in which we invest are often difficult to obtain and are subject to judgments that may vary among market participants. Changes in the estimated fair values of those assets are directly charged or credited to earnings for the period. If we were to liquidate a particular asset, the realized value may be more than or less than the amount at which such asset was recorded. Accordingly, in either event, the value of our common shares could be materially and adversely affected by our determinations regarding the fair value of our investments, and such valuations may fluctuate over short periods of time.

PCM utilizes analytical models and data in connection with the valuation of our investments, and any incorrect, misleading or incomplete information used in connection therewith would subject us to potential risks.

Given the illiquidity and complexity of our investments and strategies, PCM must rely heavily on models and data, including analytical models (both proprietary models developed by PCM and those supplied by third parties) and information and data supplied by third parties. Models and data are used to value investments or potential investments and also in connection with hedging our investments. In the event models and data prove to be incorrect, misleading or incomplete, any decisions made in reliance thereon expose us to potential risks. For example, by relying on incorrect models and data, especially valuation models, PCM may be induced to buy certain investments at prices that are too high, to sell certain other investments at prices that are too low or to miss favorable opportunities altogether. Similarly, any hedging based on faulty models and data may prove to be unsuccessful.

Liability relating to environmental matters may impact the fair value of properties that we may acquire or the properties underlying our investments.

Under various U.S. federal, state and local laws, an owner or operator of real property may become liable for the costs of removal of certain hazardous substances released on its property. These laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner or operator was responsible for, or aware of, the release of such hazardous substances. The presence of hazardous substances may also adversely affect an owner’s ability to sell real estate, borrow using the real estate as collateral or make debt payments to us. In addition, if we take title to a property, the presence of hazardous substances may adversely affect our ability to sell the property, and we may become liable to a governmental entity or to third parties for various fines, damages or remediation costs. Any of these liabilities or events may materially and adversely affect the fair value of the relevant asset and/or our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We depend on the accuracy and completeness of information about borrowers and counterparties and any misrepresented information could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In connection with our correspondent production activities, we may rely on information furnished by or on behalf of borrowers and counterparties, including financial statements and other financial information. We also may rely on representations of borrowers and counterparties as to the accuracy and completeness of that information and, with respect to audited financial statements, on reports of independent auditors. If any of this information is intentionally or negligently misrepresented and such misrepresentation is not detected prior to loan funding, the fair value of the loan may be significantly lower than expected. Our controls and processes may not have detected or may not detect all misrepresented information in our loan acquisitions or from our business clients. Any such misrepresented information could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We are subject to counterparty risk and may be unable to seek indemnity or require our counterparties to repurchase mortgage loans if they breach representations and warranties, which could cause us to suffer losses.

When we purchase mortgage assets, our counterparty typically makes customary representations and warranties to us about such assets. Our residential mortgage loan purchase agreements may entitle us to seek indemnity or demand repurchase or substitution of the loans in the event our counterparty breaches a representation or warranty given to us. However, there can be no assurance that our mortgage loan purchase agreements will contain appropriate representations and warranties, that we will be able to enforce our contractual right to demand repurchase or substitution, or that our counterparty will remain solvent or otherwise be willing and able to

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honor its obligations under our mortgage loan purchase agreements. Further, a significant portion of our nonperforming assets was purchased from or through a small number of sellers who generally also provide us with financing, creating a concentration of risk and a potential conflict of interest with key sources of financing. Our inability to obtain indemnity or require repurchase of a significant number of loans could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We may be required to repurchase mortgage loans or indemnify investors if we breach representations and warranties, which could materially and adversely affect our earnings.

When we sell loans, we are required to make customary representations and warranties about such loans to the loan purchaser. As part of our correspondent production activities, PLS re-underwrites a percentage of the loans that we acquire, and we rely upon PLS to ensure quality underwriting by our correspondent sellers, accurate third-party appraisals, and strict compliance with the representations and warranties that we require from our correspondent sellers and that are required from us by our investors.

Our residential mortgage loan sale agreements may require us to repurchase or substitute loans or indemnify the purchaser against future losses in the event we breach a representation or warranty given to the loan purchaser or in the event of an early payment default on a mortgage loan. The remedies available to the Agencies, other purchasers and insurers of mortgage loans may be broader than those available to us against the originator or correspondent lender, and if a purchaser or insurer enforces its remedies against us, we may not be able to enforce the remedies we have against the sellers. The repurchased loans typically can only be financed at a steep discount to their repurchase price, if at all. Repurchased loans are also typically sold at a discount to the unpaid principal balance, which in some cases can be significant. Significant repurchase activity could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

We are required to make servicing advances that can be subject to delays in recovery or may not be recoverable in certain circumstances, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

During any period in which a borrower is not making payments, we are required under most of our servicing agreements in respect of our MSRs to advance our own funds to pass through scheduled principal and interest payments to security holders of the MBS into which the loans are sold, pay property taxes and insurance premiums, legal expenses and other protective advances. We also advance funds under these agreements to maintain, repair and market real estate properties on behalf of investors. As home values change, we may have to reconsider certain of the assumptions underlying our decisions to make advances and, in certain situations, our contractual obligations may require us to make advances for which we may not be reimbursed. In addition, if a mortgage loan serviced by us is in default or becomes delinquent, the repayment to us of the advance may be delayed until the mortgage loan is repaid or refinanced or a liquidation occurs. A delay in our ability to collect advances may adversely affect our liquidity, and our inability to be reimbursed for advances could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Risks Related to Our Organization and Structure

Certain provisions of Maryland law, our staggered board of trustees and certain provisions in our declaration of trust could each inhibit a change in our control.

Certain provisions of the Maryland General Corporation Law (the “MGCL”) applicable to a Maryland real estate investment trust may have the effect of inhibiting a third party from making a proposal to acquire us or of impeding a change in our control under circumstances that otherwise could provide the holders of our common shares with the opportunity to realize a premium over the then prevailing market price of such common shares.

In addition, our board of trustees is divided into three classes of trustees. Trustees of each class will be elected for three-year terms upon the expiration of their current terms, and each year one class of trustees will be elected by our shareholders. The staggered terms of our trustees may reduce the possibility of a tender offer or an attempt at a change in control, even though a tender offer or change in control might be in the best interests of our shareholders.

Further, our declaration of trust authorizes us to issue additional authorized but unissued common shares and preferred shares. Our board of trustees may, without shareholder approval, increase the aggregate number of our authorized common shares or the number of shares of any class or series that we have authority to issue and classify or reclassify any unissued common shares or preferred shares and may set the preferences, rights and other terms of the classified or reclassified shares. As a result, our board may establish a class or series of common shares or preferred shares or take other actions that could delay or prevent a transaction or a change in our control that might involve a premium price for our common shares or otherwise be in the best interests of our shareholders.

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Our rights and the rights of our shareholders to take action against our trustees and officers are limited, which could limit shareholder recourse in the event of actions not in the best interest of our shareholders.

Our declaration of trust limits the liability of our present and former trustees and officers to us and our shareholders for money damages to the maximum extent permitted under Maryland law. Under current Maryland law, our present and former trustees and officers will not have any liability to us or our shareholders for money damages other than liability resulting from either (a) actual receipt of an improper benefit or profit in money, property or services or (b) active and deliberate dishonesty by the trustee or officer that was established by a final judgment and is material to the cause of action.

Our declaration of trust authorizes us to indemnify our present and former trustees and officers for actions taken by them in those capacities to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law. Our bylaws require us to indemnify each present and former trustee or officer, to the maximum extent permitted by Maryland law, in the defense of any proceeding to which he or she is made, or threatened to be made, a party by reason of his or her service to us. In addition, we may be obligated to pay or reimburse the expenses incurred by our present and former trustees and officers without requiring a preliminary determination of their ultimate entitlement to indemnification. As a result, we and our shareholders may have more limited rights against our present and former trustees and officers than might otherwise exist absent the current provisions in our declaration of trust and bylaws or that might exist with other companies, which could limit shareholder recourse in the event of actions not in the best interest of our shareholders.

Our declaration of trust contains provisions that make removal of our trustees difficult, which could make it difficult for our shareholders to effect changes to our management.

Our declaration of trust provides that, subject to the rights of holders of any series of preferred shares, a trustee may be removed only for “cause” (as defined in our declaration of trust), and then only by the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the votes entitled to be cast generally in the election of trustees. Vacancies generally may be filled only by a majority of the remaining trustees in office, even if less than a quorum, for the full term of the class of trustees in which the vacancy occurred. These requirements make it more difficult to change our management by removing and replacing trustees and may prevent a change in our control that is in the best interests of our shareholders.

Our bylaws include an exclusive forum provision that could limit our shareholders’ ability to obtain a judicial forum viewed by the shareholders as more favorable for disputes with us or our trustees or officers.

Our bylaws provide that the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, or, if that Court does not have jurisdiction, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore Division, is the exclusive forum for any derivative action or proceeding brought on our behalf; any action asserting a claim of breach of fiduciary duty; any action asserting a claim against us arising pursuant to any provision of the Maryland REIT Law; or any action asserting a claim against us that is governed by the internal affairs doctrine. This exclusive forum provision may limit a shareholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that it finds favorable for disputes with us or our trustees or officers, which may discourage such lawsuits against us and our trustees and officers. Alternatively, if a court were to find the choice of forum provision contained in our bylaws to be inapplicable or unenforceable in an action, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such action in other jurisdictions, which could adversely affect our business and financial condition.

Failure to maintain exemptions or exclusions from registration under the Investment Company Act could materially and adversely affect us.

Because we are organized as a holding company that conducts business primarily through our Operating Partnership and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, our status under the Investment Company Act is dependent upon the status of our Operating Partnership which, as a holding company, in turn, will have its status determined by the status of its subsidiaries. If our Operating Partnership or one or more of its subsidiaries fail to maintain their exceptions or exclusions from the Investment Company Act and we do not have available to us another basis on which we may avoid registration, we may have to register under the Investment Company Act. This could subject us to substantial regulation with respect to our capital structure (including our ability to use leverage), management, operations, transactions with affiliated persons (as defined in the Investment Company Act), portfolio composition, including restrictions with respect to diversification and industry concentration, and other matters. It could also cause the breach of covenants we or our subsidiaries have made under certain of our financing arrangements, which could result in an event of default, acceleration of debt and/or termination.

In August 2011, the SEC solicited public comment through a concept release on a wide range of issues relating to the Section 3(c)(5)(C) exemption from the Investment Company Act, including the nature of the assets that qualify for purposes of the exemption and whether mortgage-related REITs should be regulated in a manner similar to investment companies. There can be no assurance that the laws and regulations governing the Investment Company Act status of REITs, including guidance and interpretations from the Division of Investment Management of the SEC regarding the exceptions and exclusions therefrom, will not change in a manner that

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adversely affects our operations. If the SEC takes action that could result in our or our subsidiaries’ failure to maintain an exception or exclusion from the Investment Company Act, we could, among other things, be required to (a) restructure our operations to avoid being required to register as an investment company, (b) effect sales of our assets in a manner that, or at a time when, we would not otherwise choose to do so or (c) register as an investment company (which, among other things, would require us to comply with the leverage constraints applicable to investment companies), any of which could negatively affect the value of our common shares, the sustainability of our business model, our financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Further, a loss of our Investment Company Act exception or exclusion would allow PCM to terminate our management agreement with us, and our loan servicing agreement with PLS is subject to early termination in the event our management agreement is terminated for any reason. If either of these agreements is terminated, we will have to obtain the services on our own, and we may not be able to replace these services in a timely manner or on favorable terms, or at all. This would have a material adverse effect on our ability to continue to execute our business strategy and would likely negatively affect our financial condition, liquidity, results of operations and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

The failure of PennyMac Corp. to avail itself of an appropriate exemption from registration as an investment company under the Investment Company Act could have a material and adverse effect on our business.

 

We intend to operate so that we and each of our subsidiaries are not required to register as investment companies under the Investment Company Act. We believe that our subsidiary, PennyMac Corp. (“PMC”), to the extent it does not qualify under Section 3(c)(5)(C), would qualify for the exemption provided in Section 3(c)(6) because it has been, and is expected to continue to be, primarily engaged, directly or through majority-owned subsidiaries, in (1) the business of purchasing or otherwise acquiring mortgages or other liens on and interests in real estate (from which not less than 25% of its gross income during its last fiscal year was and will continue to be derived), together with (2) an additional business or businesses other than investing, reinvesting, owning, holding, or trading in securities, namely the business of servicing mortgages. Although we expect not less than 25% of PMC’s gross income to be derived from originating, purchasing, or acquiring mortgages or liens on and interests in real estate, there can be no assurances that the composition of PMC’s gross income will remain the same over time.

 

To date, the SEC staff has provided limited guidance with respect to the applicability of Section 3(c)(6), and PMC has not sought a no-action letter from the SEC staff respecting its position. If PMC is ultimately unable to rely on the Section 3(c)(6) exemption due to a failure to meet the 25% of gross income test or to the extent that the SEC staff provides negative guidance regarding the applicability or scope of the exemption, we may be required to either (a) register as an investment company, or (b) substantially restructure our business, change our investment strategy and/or the manner in which we conduct our operations in order to qualify for another Investment Company Act exemption and avoid being required to register as an investment company, either of which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.  

 

In the case of a restructuring, PMC could temporarily rely on Rule 3a-2 for its exemption from registration. Rule 3a-2 provides a safe harbor exemption, not to exceed one year, for companies that have a bona fide intent to be engaged in an excepted activity but temporarily fail to meet the requirements for an exemption. In such case, PMC would likely be required to restructure its business by acquiring and/or disposing of assets in order to meet an exemption under Section 3(c)(5)(C), depending on the composition of its assets at the time. The SEC staff’s position on Section 3(c)(5)(C) generally requires that an issuer maintain at least 55% of its assets in mortgages and other liens on and interests in real estate (qualifying assets) and at least 80% of its assets in qualifying assets plus real estate-related assets.  PMC would be more limited in its ability to hold MSRs or would be required to acquire and hold more mortgage loans and real estate to adjust the composition of its assets to meet the 55% and 80% tests.

 

If PMC is required to register as an investment company, we would be required to comply with a variety of substantive requirements under the Investment Company Act that impose, among other things: limitations on capital structure; restrictions on specified investments; prohibitions on transactions with affiliates; compliance with reporting, record keeping, voting and proxy disclosure; and, other rules and regulations that would significantly increase our operating expenses. Further, if PMC was or is required to register as an investment company, PMC would be in breach of various representations and warranties contained in its credit and other agreements resulting in a default as to certain of our contracts and obligations. This could also subject us to civil or criminal actions or regulatory proceedings, or result in a court appointed receiver to take control of us and liquidate our business, any or all of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

 

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Rapid changes in the fair values of our investments may make it more difficult for us to maintain our REIT qualification or exclusion from the Investment Company Act.

If the fair value or income potential of our residential mortgage loans and other real estate-related assets declines as a result of increased interest rates, prepayment rates or other factors, we may need to increase certain real estate investments and income and/or liquidate our non-qualifying assets in order to maintain our REIT qualification or exclusion from the Investment Company Act. If the decline in real estate asset values and/or income occurs quickly, this may be especially difficult to accomplish, particularly given the illiquid nature of our investments. We may have to make investment decisions, including the liquidation of investments at a disadvantageous time or on unfavorable terms, that we otherwise would not make absent our REIT and Investment Company Act considerations, and such liquidations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Risks Related to Taxation

Our failure to qualify as a REIT would result in higher taxes and reduced cash available for distribution to our shareholders.

We are organized and operate in a manner so as to qualify as a REIT for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Our qualification as a REIT depends on our satisfaction of certain asset, income, organizational, distribution, shareholder ownership and other requirements on a continuing basis. If we were to lose our REIT status in any taxable year, corporate-level income taxes, including applicable state and local taxes, would apply to all of our taxable income at federal and state tax rates, and distributions to our shareholders would not be deductible by us in computing our taxable income. Any such corporate tax liability could be substantial and would reduce the amount of cash available for distribution to our shareholders, which in turn would have an adverse impact on the value of our common shares. Unless we were entitled to relief under certain Internal Revenue Code provisions, we also would be disqualified from taxation as a REIT for the four taxable years following the year during which we ceased to qualify as a REIT.

Even if we qualify as a REIT, we face tax liabilities that reduce our cash flow, and a significant portion of our income may be earned through TRSs that are subject to U.S. federal income taxation.

Even if we qualify for taxation as a REIT, we may be subject to certain U.S. federal, state and local taxes on our income and assets, including taxes on any undistributed income, tax on income from some activities conducted as a result of a foreclosure, and state or local income, property and transfer taxes, such as mortgage recording taxes. Any of these taxes would decrease cash available for distribution to our shareholders.

We also engage in business activities that are required to be conducted in a TRS. In order to meet the REIT qualification requirements, or to avert the imposition of a 100% tax that applies to certain gains derived by a REIT from dealer property or inventory, we hold a significant portion of our assets through, and derive a significant portion of our taxable income and gains in, a TRS, subject to the limitation that securities in TRSs may not represent more than 25% (20% for years beginning after December 31, 2017) of our assets in order for us to remain qualified as a REIT. All taxable income and gains derived from the assets held from time to time in our TRS are subject to regular corporate income taxation.

The percentage of our assets represented by a TRS and the amount of our income that we can receive in the form of TRS dividends are subject to statutory limitations that could jeopardize our REIT status.

Currently, no more than 25% of the value of a REIT’s assets may consist of stock or securities of one or more TRSs (at the end of each quarter). For taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, no more than 20% of the value of a REIT’s assets may consist of stock or securities of one or more TRSs. We may potentially have to modify our activities or the capital structure of those TRSs in order to comply with the new limitation and maintain our qualification as a REIT. While we intend to manage our affairs so as to satisfy this requirement, there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so in all market circumstances and even if we are able to do so, compliance with this rule may reduce our flexibility in operating our business. Although a TRS is subject to U.S. federal, state and local income tax on its taxable income, we may from time to time need to make distributions of such after-tax income in order to keep the value of our TRS below 25% (or 20% for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017) of our total assets. However, for purposes of one of the tests we must satisfy to qualify as a REIT, at least 75% of our gross income must in each taxable year generally be from real estate assets. While we monitor our compliance with both this income test and the limitation on the percentage of our assets represented by TRS securities, the two may at times be in conflict with one another. That is, it is possible that we may wish to distribute a dividend from a TRS in order to reduce the value of our TRS below 25% (20% for years beginning after December 31, 2017) of the required percentage of our assets, but be unable to do so without violating the requirement that 75% of our gross income in the taxable year be derived from real estate assets. There can be no assurance that we will be able to comply with either or both of these tests in all market conditions. Our inability to comply with both of these tests could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, liquidity, results of operations, qualification as a REIT and ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

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Ordinary dividends payable by REITs do not generally qualify for the reduced tax rates applicable to certain corporate dividends.

The Internal Revenue Code provides for a 20% maximum federal income tax rate for dividends paid by regular United States corporations to eligible domestic shareholders that are individuals, trusts or estates.  Dividends paid by REITs are generally not eligible for these reduced rates. While H.R. 1, commonly known as the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act (the “Tax Act”), which was enacted on December 22, 2017, generally may allow domestic shareholders to deduct from their taxable income one-fifth of the REIT ordinary dividends payable to them for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017 and before January 1, 2026, the effective rate for such REIT dividends still remains higher than rates for regular corporate dividends paid to high-taxed individuals.  The more favorable rates applicable to regular corporate dividends could cause investors who are individuals, trusts and estates to perceive investments in REITs to be relatively less attractive as a federal income tax matter than investments in the stocks of non-REIT corporations that pay dividends, which could materially and adversely affect the value of the stock of REITs, including our common shares.

We have not established a minimum distribution payment level and no assurance can be given that we will be able to make distributions to our shareholders in the future at current levels or at all.

We are generally required to distribute to our shareholders at least 90% of our taxable income each year for us to qualify as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code, which requirement we currently intend to satisfy. To the extent we satisfy the 90% distribution requirement but distribute less than 100% of our taxable income, we will be subject to U.S. federal corporate income tax on our undistributed taxable income. We have not established a minimum distribution payment level, and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders may be materially and adversely affected by the risk factors discussed in this Report and any subsequent Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q. Although we have made, and anticipate continuing to make, quarterly distributions to our shareholders, our board of trustees has the sole discretion to determine the timing, form and amount of any future distributions to our shareholders, and such determination will depend upon, among other factors, our historical and projected results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and liquidity, maintenance of our REIT qualification and other tax considerations, capital expenditure and other expense obligations, debt covenants, contractual prohibitions or other limitations and applicable law and such other matters as our board of trustees may deem relevant from time to time. Among the factors that could impair our ability to continue to make distributions to our shareholders are:

 

our inability to invest the net proceeds from our equity offerings;

 

our inability to make attractive risk-adjusted returns on our current and future investments;

 

non-cash earnings or unanticipated expenses that reduce our cash flow;

 

defaults in our investment portfolio or decreases in its value;

 

reduced cash flows caused by delays in repayment or liquidation of our investments; and

 

the fact that anticipated operating expense levels may not prove accurate, as actual results may vary from estimates.

As a result, no assurance can be given that we will be able to continue to make distributions to our shareholders in the future or that the level of any future distributions will achieve a market yield or increase or even be maintained over time, any of which could materially and adversely affect the market price of our common shares.

The REIT distribution requirements could materially and adversely affect our ability to execute our business strategies.

We intend to continue to make distributions to our shareholders to comply with the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code and to avoid paying corporate income tax on undistributed income. However, differences in timing between the recognition of taxable income and the actual receipt of cash could require us to sell assets, borrow funds on a short-term or long-term basis, or issue equity to meet the distribution requirements of the Internal Revenue Code. We may find it difficult or impossible to meet distribution requirements in certain circumstances. Due to the nature of the assets in which we invest and may invest and to our accounting elections for such assets, we may be required to recognize taxable income from those assets in advance of our receipt of cash flow on or proceeds from disposition of such assets.

In addition, pursuant to the Tax Act, we generally will be required to recognize certain amounts in income no later than the time such amounts are reflected on our financial statements filed with the SEC. The application of this rule may require the accrual of income with respect to mortgage loans, MBS, and other types of debt securities or interests in debt securities held by us, such as original issue discount or market discount, earlier than would be the case under other provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, although the precise application of this rule to our business is unclear at this time in various respects.

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As a result, to the extent such income is not realized within a TRS, the requirement to distribute a substantial portion of our net taxable income could cause us to: (i) sell assets in adverse market conditions, (ii) borrow on unfavorable terms, (iii) distribute amounts that would otherwise be invested in future acquisitions, capital expenditures or repayment of debt or (iv) make a taxable distribution of our shares as part of a distribution in which shareholders may elect to receive shares or (subject to a limit measured as a percentage of the total distribution) cash, in order to comply with REIT requirements.

We may be required to report taxable income early in our holding period for certain investments in excess of the economic income we ultimately realize from them.

We acquire and/or expect to acquire in the secondary market debt instruments that we may significantly modify for less than their face amount, MBS issued with original issue discount, MBS acquired at a market discount, or debt instruments or MBS that are delinquent as to mandatory principal and interest payments. In each case, we may be required to report income regardless of whether corresponding cash payments are received or are ultimately collectible. If we eventually collect less than we had previously reported as income, there may be a bad debt deduction available to us at that time or we may record a capital loss in a disposition of such asset, but our ability to benefit from that bad debt deduction would depend on our having taxable income or capital gains, respectively, in that later taxable year. This possible “income early, losses later” phenomenon could materially and adversely affect us and our shareholders if it were persistent and in significant amounts.

The share ownership limits applicable to us that are imposed by the Internal Revenue Code for REITs and our declaration of trust may restrict our business combination opportunities.

In order for us to maintain our qualification as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code, not more than 50% in value of our outstanding shares may be owned, directly or indirectly, by five or fewer individuals (as defined in the Internal Revenue Code to include certain entities) at any time during the last half of each taxable year following our first year. Our declaration of trust, with certain exceptions, authorizes our board of trustees to take the actions that are necessary and desirable to preserve our qualification as a REIT. Under our declaration of trust, no person may own more than 9.8% by vote or value, whichever is more restrictive, of our outstanding common shares or more than 9.8% by vote or value, whichever is more restrictive, of our outstanding shares of beneficial interest. Our board may grant an exemption to the share ownership limits in its sole discretion, subject to certain conditions and the receipt of certain representations and undertakings. These share ownership limits are based upon direct or indirect ownership by “individuals,” which term includes certain entities.

Ownership limitations are common in the organizational documents of REITs and are intended, among other purposes, to provide added assurance of compliance with the tax law requirements and to minimize administrative burdens. However, our share ownership limits might also delay or prevent a transaction or a change in our control that might involve a premium price for our common shares or otherwise be in the best interests of our shareholders.