Capital One Financial Corp on Monday said it will eliminate 1,900 jobs and shut down a wholesale mortgage unit it acquired less than a year ago, as it struggles with the U.S. housing downturn.
The closure of GreenPoint Mortgage Inc. will result in an $860 million charge, or $2.15 per share, and Capital One slashed its 2007 earnings forecast. Shares fell in after-market trading but then rose as investors cheered the company's exit from an increasingly risky business.
There's some short-term pain. You never want to have to write down assets. But it's a long-term positive, because this operation was one of the main concerns facing the company, said Peter Kovalski, analyst covering financial services stocks at Alpine Woods Capital Investors, which owns Capital One shares.
McLean, Virginia-based Capital One, best known as a credit card issuer, is the latest lender to get hit by the U.S. mortgage crisis, where rising defaults by borrowers have made investors less willing to buy repackaged home loans.
Capital One plans to close GreenPoint's headquarters in Novato, California, and shut 31 offices in 19 U.S. states. It expects to take most of the charge for the closure in 2007.
GreenPoint has run into unforeseen circumstances that are beyond its control, said Richard Fairbank, chairman and chief executive at Capital One.
The company now expects 2007 profit of $5.00 per share. The company had previously forecast earnings toward the low end of the range of $7.00 to $7.40 per share.
Analysts on average expect full-year earnings before special items of $7.08 per share, according to Reuters Estimates.
Capital One had acquired GreenPoint as part of the $13.2 billion acquisition of North Fork Bancorp Inc in December 2006.
GreenPoint specialized in making home loans to people unable to document income or assets. Many lenders have suffered losses from those loans, known as Alt-A mortgages, because they were often used to buy a more expensive house than the consumer could afford.
The GreenPoint business lost $12.6 million in the first quarter, but managed to turn in a $2.6 million profit in the second quarter.
Capital One said it expects to continue to make home loans through its Capital One Home Loans business and its bank branches, where it has more control of the lending process.
Capital One's shares closed at $66.72 on Monday, but rose to $66.74 in after market trading. The company's shares have fallen more than 13 percent this year, more than twice the decline of consumer financial stocks as measured by the Dow Jones U.S. Consumer Finance Index.