After discontinuing its loan business and selling some assets to Countrywide earlier this week, Atlanta based Homebanc Mortgage Corp. and subsidiaries filed Chapter 11 petitions in the District of Delaware yesterday (Case No. 07-11079).
Shares of Countrywide, the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, have lost a third of their value this year, wiping out $9.3 billion of market capitalization that took three years for the Calabasas, California-based company to generate. They fell as much as 14 percent today, the most since the 1987 market crash. Washington Mutual, the largest U.S. savings and loan, lost 2.2 percent and MGIC, the No. 1 mortgage insurer, fell 13 percent.
The nation’s biggest lenders may face a cash shortage because investors who buy their loans aren’t bidding and bankers have cut off credit lines. The fallout has toppled at least 70 mortgage companies and half a dozen hedge funds that bought their loans, and stalled buyouts including MGIC’s takeover of Radian Group Inc. Regulators in the U.S., Europe and Japan have responded by pumping money into the banking system.
“Any company that has products related to home sales is in trouble,” said James Stratton, chief executive officer of investment firm Stratton Management Co. in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. “Instead of a soft landing, it’s a hard landing,” said Stratton, whose company has $3 billion in assets.
Countrywide fell $1.76 to $26.90 at 12:35 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, after reaching $24.71 earlier today. Washington Mutual dropped 78 cents to $35.98. MGIC lost $5.62 to $36.17.