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Mortgage Insurance Stocks: Beneficiaries of Increasing Home Prices
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One interesting way to play a rebound in the housing market is through the mortgage insurance stocks. These companies provide insurance against defaults by borrowers who take out mortgages to buy homes. When defaults and foreclosures skyrocketed, beginning around 2006, these companies suffered huge losses and some of them went out of business. Needless to say, their stocks got crushed, and most of them have yet to really rebound.
All of the surviving mortgage insurers have been much more conservative since 2008, with the result that the new business they are writing is very profitable. The problem is that they are still trying to get out from under the poor risks that they took on prior to the 2008 financial collapse.
Rising home prices help the insurers get out from under these legacy problems. As home prices begin to recover, fewer homeowners are likely to default because they can now hope to rebuild their equity in their homes. In addition, the losses on defaulted mortgages should be smaller as the homes fetch higher prices in foreclosure sales. This February 2013 Turnaround Letter article names four potential turnaround opportunities in mortgage insurers' industry.
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