IndyMac Mortgage Holdings Inc. said Thursday that it expects first-quarter net income in the range of 28 cents to 32 cents per share, beating the analysts' First Call consensus estimate of 23 cents per share.

The company's first-quarter earnings will be released April 21.

Michael W. Perry, chief executive officer of IndyMac, said this quarter's earnings are being driven by two factors: its third-party lending division's new focus on small- to midsize mortgage bankers and mortgage brokers; and improved margins, the result of "narrowing spreads, fewer competitors and more rational pricing."

IndyMac sold $2 billion of mortgages in the first quarter-53% of that amount in the form of whole loan sales or sales of mortgage-backed securities to the government-sponsored enterprises for cash.

The company is working to increase its cash flow and reduce its reliance on private-label securitization, Mr. Perry said.

IndyMac's production volumes for January and February totaled $525 million and $541 million, respectively, and Mr. Perry estimated that the March production volume would exceed February's.

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