Ocwen: Fundamental Stability And Strategy Amidst Market Volatility

Dilok Klaisataporn

Ocwen Financial Corporation (NYSE:OCN), a Florida-based company, provides mortgage loan services and origination across the U.S. and some parts of Asia. It operates through mortgage loan servicing, asset management services, and special servicing. It channels its transactions through brokers and correspondent lending arrangements. In over thirty years, it has been through several crises, rebounded, and expanded.

Today, Ocwen faces external factors that hamper its growth-inflation headwinds and P&C insurance exodus, to name a few. But, its opportunistic and diversified business model allows it to thwart the blow of market volatility. It remains well-positioned with its prudent management and cost-reduction strategies to match rising rates. Meanwhile, the stock price does not appear divorced from its fundamentals with its sideways pattern.

Company Performance

Ocwen Financial Corporation has capitalized on the near-zero rates to stabilize revenues in the last two years. Amidst regulatory risks and limitations, it yielded higher and positive returns. Indeed, it is challenging to operate in the mortgage servicing and origination industry. Even so, was able to take advantage of the economic downturn.

Today, the economy continues to reopen, allowing the rebound of production, labor, and demand. The pent-up demand, matched with the slow improvement in port congestion, affects inventory levels. With potential shortages across industries, prices are now skyrocketing. It is more visible in the real estate market, although sales have been cooling down recently. But, price levels and housing demand are still elevated, leading to interest and mortgage rate hikes.

So, it is a challenge for Ocwen to keep up with the rising rates. Higher rates are hampering mortgage originations, which is a vital component of its revenues. It is more evident in reverse mortgage originations, which amount to -$2.6 million vs $29 million. Loans held for sale also show the unfavorable impact of interest rate hikes. It should not be a surprise since higher rates affect the valuation of loans and loan-backed securities. If we combine their amount and other revenues, we will come up with $7.03 million, an 87% decrease from 2Q 2021.

Fortunately, Ocwen remains well-positioned with its well-balanced, diversified, and opportunistic business model. Its servicing and subservicing pipeline remains its cornerstone, offsetting the impact of interest and mortgage rate hikes. It amounts to $215 million, a 17% year-over-year increase. With that, the operating revenue amounts to $180 million. The decrease drops to 16%, making it more manageable for a business in a hammered industry. Also note that despite the decrease in reverse originations, its market share of 7.4% is higher than in the comparative quarter.

Operating Revenue (MarketWatch)

Its prudent and efficient management remains a part of its core competencies. This attribute allows it to manage its costs and expense in line with its cost-reduction strategies. It is also consistent with its optimization of warehouse lines and restructuring of advanced lines. This plan may lower the demand for forward mortgage originations and pay them off in 4Q 2022. Another driving force is its mortgage servicing rights (MSR), which are correlated to the increase. Its valuation increases to $33.2 million vs -$72.5 million in 2Q 2021. It is no surprise that its operating income is now higher at $110.99 million vs $43.2 million in 2Q 2021. Its cost-reduction strategies and the higher valuation of MSR offset the decrease in the operating revenue. The operating margin of 0.62 is far higher than 0.17 in the comparative quarter.

Operating Margin (MarketWatch)

Potential Risks And Opportunities

Ocwen Financial Corporation continues to prove its fundamental soundness and resilience. But, it must not be too relaxed yet. The mortgage industry is a dynamic market, especially now that rates remain elevated. The question is how prepared it is should inflation, interest, and mortgage rate go up some more.

Inflation remains its primary challenge. Although it appears to go into a slight lull at 8.5%, shortages remain evident, especially in the real estate market. The pent-up demand and the geopolitical unrest in Europe may further drive price increases. To be more conservative, I estimate inflation to peak at 9.6-9.8%. It is still in line with the estimation of interest and mortgage rates at 3-3.4% and 6.7-7%. Note that the current interest and mortgage rates are higher than the initial estimation. So, these values may be reached this year. These have an unfavorable impact on mortgage originations and loans held for sale. So, OCN must continue to execute its cost reduction strategies.

Inflation Rate, Interest Rate, Mortgage Rate (Author Estimation, Barron’s, Forbes)

The state of Florida is on the brink of P&C insurance exodus, an event that OCN must watch out for. The roofing scams and the increased frequency of natural disasters are driving insurers away from the state. So, it may have an indirect demand on OCN since P&C insurance is a staple for many homeowners.

Thankfully, OCN appears to be prepared for these potential risks. It now has more stable fundamentals. It leverages its core strengths to generate returns with its diversified business model. Its core reduction strategies are in line with its plan to optimize liquidity and diversify financing resources to improve its positioning in a challenging market landscape. Its cash levels and receivables are stable. Their combined amount is $500 million vs $476 million in 2Q 2021. Borrowings are also almost unchanged. It shows that it does not have to raise its financial leverage to keep up with the volatile market. It was also able to repurchase shares worth $17 million this quarter. So, it has adequate means to sustain its operations and even manage its financial leverage.

Cash and Receivables and Borrowings (MarketWatch)

The increasing population in Florida is another driving force to consider, although it appears that investors are outpacing residents in buying houses. In West Palm Beach, its headquarters, investors account for 16% of home sales. The actual value in the most recent data shows a 12% increase from the previous year. Currently, Florida is one of the most populous and fastest-growing states in the U.S. Homebuyer demographics in the last year have shown that the vast majority of homebuyers were married couples 65%. Statistics show that the population in the state may increase by 845 new residents every day in 2022-2025. So, houses and apartments will remain a staple. In turn, mortgages will become more essential for potential homebuyers.

Homebuyers Demographics (FloridaRealtors)

Stock Price Assessment

The stock price of Ocwen Financial Corporation has been moving sideways in the last year. It has increased from its dip in April but remains lower than the highs. At $28.24, it is 56% higher than the dip but 30% lower than the starting price. Price ratios show potential undervaluation, given its P/E Ratio of 3.14, PTBV Ratio of 0.48, and Price/Cash Flow Ratio of 5.72. To assess the stock price better, we may use the DCF Model.

DCF Model

FCFF $172,000,000

Cash $322,000,000

Outstanding Borrowings $1,683,000,000

Perpetual Growth Rate 4.8%

WACC 9.8%

Common Shares Outstanding 8,698,688

Stock Price $28.24

Derived Value $37.45

The derived value adheres with the price ratios. There is the potential undervaluation of the stock price. There may be a 32% upside in the next 12-18 months, which appears reasonable. I expect that inflation may become more stable in 2023-2024, leading to more solid fundamentals. Investors must watch the stock price closer before making a position.

Bottom Line

Ocwen Financial Corporation is still in a stormy market environment. It remains well-positioned with its well-balanced and diversified business model. Its fundamentals remain solid and intact, allowing it to cushion the blow and generate higher returns. Also, the stock price appears to be undervalued, making it an ideal entry point. The recommendation is that Ocwen Financial Corporation is a buy.