CWM Holdings Inc., an offspring of Countrywide Credit Industries, appears to be on a fast-growth track.
The company, public and independent since just last year, jumped into the spotlight last week when a block trade of 736,000 shares was made on the New York Stock Exchange.
It has just completed an offering of 7 million shares, its third since its initial public offering. The offering price was $9.125, and the block traded at the same price.
Why so many offerings? Eric Sieracki, investor relations director, explained: "Bottom line, the offering was necessary because of our REIT structure. When you want to grow your businesses, you must go in for equity capital. We have an operating strategy of conservative leverage, so we have to go for equity."
REITs, or real estate investment trusts, must pass through most of their earnings to shareholders and thus cannot grow internally through retained earnings.
Mr. Sieracki said the company was expanding into some new lines of business. It has formed a subsidiary, Construction Lending Corporation of America, that will specialize in construction loans.
The unit will offer loans to builders that convert to home loans for their customers upon completion of construction. It also plans to lend to developers for projects of 100 units or less, with no more than 20 units funded at a time.
CWM also said it had delayed the dividend record date for its latest quarterly payment so that investors who buy the newly issued shares will be eligible to receive the payment of 27 cents a share. It had originally intended the new buyers to be eligible, but a review by the Securities and Exchange Commission took longer than expected.
In a separate announcement, CWM's former parent, Countrywide Credit Industries, said its servicing portfolio had grown to $112 billion as of Jan. 31, 36% greater than the $82 billion portfolio it held the year before.
The increase in January was $1.3 billion, said David S. Loeb, chairman of the Pasadena, Calif.-based mortgage bank, the nation's largest mortgage lender.
Fundings for the month of January were $1.9 billion, down from $2.2 billion in December. However, applications for the month rose 6%.
Countrywide also reported that margins remain under pressure from "keen price competition."
A number of top Countrywide executives are also executives and major shareholders of CWM.