Contifinancial Corp. averted bankruptcy in August, but its troubles continue.
The New York home equity lender said this week that it lost $333.7 million, or $7.18 per share, in its fiscal second quarter, which ended Sept. 30. During the same period last year it lost $114.3 million.
Contifinancial also said the New York Stock Exchange had notified the company that it does not meet some key requirements for listing: a 30-day average share price of at least $1 and market capitalization and shareholder equity of at least $50 million.
The company was given six months to reach the standards, but it said in a press statement that it probably would not succeed. Its shares were trading at midafternoon Thursday at 28.125 cents.
Contifinancial raised eyebrows last week too, with news that its majority shareholder, Contigroup, formerly Continental Grain Co., had not renewed a year-old commitment to provide up to $85 million of servicing advances.
An alternative source was found; Greenwich Capital Financial Products has agreed to provide up to $125 million of advances. But observers wondered whether Contigroup, which owns 77% of Contifinancial stock, had given up on supporting the ailing home equity lender.
"I'm not surprised" that the commitment was not renewed, said Thomas Abruzzo, an analyst at Fitch IBCA, the New York rating agency.
"A year ago it made sense" -- Contifinancial "still had a market cap back then. Given the position they're in now, it didn't make sense anymore."
In August, Contifinancial got an extension until March for repayment of $422 million of its bank debt. But these new events suggest that the company is heading for some kind of restructuring, if not bankruptcy, observers said.
"Under the current capital structure, I don't expect it to be able to survive," said Gary Madia, an analyst at KDP Investment Advisors in Montpelier, Vt.
Despite the extension on Contifinancial's bank debt, Fitch IBCA did not see fit to raise its "C" rating for the company's senior notes, a rating that implies imminent default, Mr. Abruzzo said.
One source close to the company said it is talking to potential buyers. But the prices of Contifiancial's senior notes -- which according to Mr. Madia are trading at 19 cents on the dollar -- and its stock indicate that investors believe default is inevitable.
Contifinancial's chief executive officer, Alan Fishman, declined to be interviewed for this article. Mr. Fishman, the former chief financial officer of Chemical Bank, succeeded James Moore as CEO in August.
Most of the loss in the latest quarter was due to a $173.5 million writedown of the company's interest-only securities that it retains from its securitizations -- one of several such writedowns in the last year. Losses on Contifiancial's loan portfolio were higher than expected, and the company had to increase its estimate of cumulative losses to 4.5%, up from the 3.5% figure it used in the previous quarter and 2.91% the quarter before that.
Servicers of securitized mortgages have to pay principal and interest to bondholders on a certain day of the month, regardless of when loan payments come in, so they often have to advance the money to investors and pay themselves back when the borrowers' checks arrive.
Servicers usually have enough cash to make these advances themselves. When Continental Grain agreed to provide servicer advances to Contifinancial a year ago, the stated reason was to allow the lender to use its cash elsewhere. Now Contifinancial is so cash-strapped that a servicer advance commitment is no longer optional, analysts said.