Rocket Corporations: Don’t Purchase But

Khanchit Khirisutchalual/iStock by way of Getty Photographs

I wrote about Rocket Corporations again on August 23 of final yr, when the inventory was at $17.57. On the time, I mentioned:

“I’d want to take a position with extra worry within the valuation, so I counsel ready to see if Rocket might be purchased under $15. There needs to be no hurry – the chances are excessive that over the following yr or extra the information will worsen.”

At this time the inventory is buying and selling at $8.80. By my math, that’s under $15. Time to purchase? Sorry, however I don’t suppose so. $7 could be a superb entry level.

On this article I’ll evaluation what we all know and why which means Rocket ought to earn solely about $0.50 per share this yr and subsequent yr, and $1.00 in 2024.

What we all know – We will ignore “Rocket the Fintech”

Administration passionately pitches itself as a fintech. For instance, from its annual report:

“Rocket Corporations is a fintech platform firm consisting of non-public finance and shopper know-how manufacturers. We leverage our know-how, knowledge and extremely educated Rocket Cloud Drive to offer purchasers with certainty all through life’s most complicated transactions…”


“Rocket competes in a number of the largest, most complicated segments of the economic system, together with mortgage, actual property, auto, monetary companies and photo voltaic. Our markets stay extremely fragmented, and we’re positioned to realize market share by main the digital transformation of our industries.”

This sort of hype was useful to shares final yr, when traders clamored for disruptor tales, nevertheless unlikely. However disruptor tales are so over – see the inventory charts of Zillow (Z), SoFi (SOFI), Opendoor (OPEN), and many others.

I don’t understand how Rocket’s forays into actual property brokerage, automobile gross sales and private finance will end up. However the reality is that at present they’re tiny in comparison with Rocket’s mortgage banking enterprise, and will likely be so for a lot of, a few years. I have a tendency to fret that Rocket and its friends will spend more cash chasing these desires than they may ever earn. However the bills and revenues are rounding errors for a few years.

What we all know – the mortgage origination cycle has practically bottomed

My article final yr centered on the knowledge that mortgage originations would plummet from their $4.4 trillion annual tempo at the moment, as mortgage refinancing inevitably ended. Oddly sufficient, the inevitable occurred. The plunge in refinancing has introduced the Mortgage Bankers Affiliation’s (MBA’s) projected 2022 originations to $2.5 trillion, a virtually 40% year-over-year decline.

However this chart exhibits that mortgage originations are close to backside:

Mortgage originations, 2019-2023

Mortgage Bankers Affiliation

Supply: Mortgage Bankers Affiliation (MBA)

Whereas there is no such thing as a progress for the foreseeable future, at the least the danger of one other sickening sharp decline is proscribed. For instance, the $552 billion of dwelling buy originations Fannie Mae expects for this Q3 is 34% above the pre-COVID Q3 ’19 quantity, in keeping with dwelling worth will increase over that interval. And the $145 billion of refis Fannie expects for Q3 is definitely under the pre-COVID norm.

What we all know – the wanted provide shrinkage has begun

A 40% decline in demand clearly creates extra capability. That extra has taken a toll on Rocket’s mortgage origination revenue margin (in mortgage banker-speak, the “acquire on sale margin”), as this chart exhibits:

Gain on sale margin

Rocket monetary stories

Supply: Rocket Corporations monetary stories

Returning to regular revenue margins requires a big decline in provide, which implies firing plenty of mortgage bankers. That has begun taking place – even at Rocket! – as this partial checklist from website The Reality About Mortgage exhibits:

Amerifirst House Mortgage layoffs in Kalamazoo, MI / Householders Monetary Group layoffs in Arizona / Costco Mortgage program now not obtainable as of Could 1st, 2022 / U.S. Financial institution reduce 200 mortgage operations jobs / Mr. Cooper reduce roughly 250 jobs / Flagstar Financial institution reduce 20% of mortgage workers (420 jobs) / Rocket Mortgage providing buyouts to eight% of workers / Wells Fargo chopping unspecified variety of mortgage jobs / USAA Financial institution reduce 90+ mortgage jobs / PennyMac to chop 227 jobs in Agoura/Moorpark/Westlake, CA / Higher Mortgage to chop extra 3,000 jobs in United States and India / Redfin to amass Bay Fairness House Loans, 121 layoffs”

And many others.

I anticipate the provision shrinkage will likely be totally completed a yr from now.

What we all know – Rocket stands out from its friends

Mortgage banking is a miserably aggressive enterprise. There are literally thousands of mortgage lenders nationally, they usually all promote the identical core product, particularly a “conforming” (to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac requirements) 30-year mounted fee mortgage. Economists have a measure of business competitiveness, known as the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI). The decrease the index, the extra aggressive the business. By my calculation, the mortgage bankers’ HHI is barely above 100. Evaluate that to the U.S. auto making business at a 1,100 HHI, and the web search enterprise at 5,500.

As one would anticipate, then, business management is tenuous. After I first beginning monitoring the business within the mid-‘80s, the market share chief was Lomas & Nettleton. It went bankrupt in 1989. Then Wells Fargo and Countrywide Credit score battled for management, each reaching 20%+ market shares. Countrywide was staggered by the Nice Monetary Disaster (“GFC”), was purchased by Financial institution of America and ended up costing B of A tens of billions of {dollars}. Wells steadily shrank, to a 5% share in Q1.

In the meantime, Dan Gilbert based Rock Monetary in 1985. It pitched itself as an web play in the course of the late ‘90s, and obtained purchased out by Intuit in 1999 and rebranded as Quicken Loans. Administration then purchased it again in 2002 after Intuit couldn’t abdomen the top of a refinancing growth. Rocket survived the GFC as a result of it averted the subprime lending that killed off a whole lot and even 1000’s of friends, and obtained rewarded by an ‘08/’09 refi growth. It grew steadily since to its grandeur at present.

How did it handle this success in such a troublesome business? A mix of a low rate of interest and credit score threat technique, and a deal with know-how to drive down working and advertising prices. Not mind science, however a degree of self-discipline that few friends can keep.

What we now know – Rocket has a market share drawback

What am I speaking about? Rocket has been a market share animal over time, because it proudly trumpeted in its newest earnings presentation:

Rocket market share history

Rocket Q1 ’22 presentation

However that’s not sufficient hype. Apparently, transfer over Amazon, make room for Rocket:

Rocket market share comparison

Rocket Q1 ’22 presentation

“Come on, Gordon, hop on the bandwagon. Rocket is rising to the moon.” I used to be truly shopping for this story till Rocket added this forecast to its Q1 earnings press launch:

We anticipate the next ranges in Q2 2022: Closed mortgage quantity of between $35 billion and $40 billion.”

This suggests a Q2 market share of solely 5.5%! A serious drop from final yr’s 8.8%. To not be impolite, however that may be very un-Amazon-like. What provides?

What provides is that Rocket’s gross sales energy is direct to the buyer. That works very effectively throughout a refinancing growth, when home-owner loyalties are up for grabs. However the dwelling buy mortgage resolution is closely influenced by realtors, who’ve their very own lender loyalties. Rocket bizarrely refuses to interrupt out its dwelling buy and refinancing quantity in print, however it clearly has a lot higher refi than dwelling buy share.

With refinancing largely lifeless for at the least a number of years, Rocket’s market share has taken a success that can at finest take years and plenty of advertising {dollars} to get well.

My Rocket earnings estimates

I anticipate Rocket to earn round $0.50 per share this yr and subsequent yr, and $1.00 in 2024. Right here is my earnings mannequin:

My earnings estimates

Rocket monetary stories

Supply for historic knowledge: Rocket monetary stories

My key assumptions are:

  • Nationwide mortgage originations are the Mortgage Bankers Affiliation’s forecasts.
  • Rocket’s share bottoms this quarter at 5.5% and regularly rises as Rocket spends cash to develop its dwelling buy market share.
  • The acquire on sale of mortgage originations additionally bottoms this quarter and rises to its 2019 degree by 2024 after I assume the business’s extra capability is totally squeezed out.
  • MSR worth modifications signify modifications within the anticipated lifetime of the loans Rocket companies (collects funds). The percentages are that Rocket will write up the worth of its MSRs if rates of interest keep flat or rise, however as a result of this can be a non-cash merchandise, I don’t embody them in working earnings.
  • Working bills have down and up drivers. Rocket’s down driver is lowering capability due to the mortgage origination decline. The up drivers are (a) efforts to realize mortgage buy share, and (b) Rocket’s fintech diversification efforts. My expense estimates hopefully moderately replicate these cross-currents.

Wrapping up – Nonetheless too early to purchase

Rocket goes to have a difficult 12-18 months forward of it. Earnings needs to be close to zero for 3 or extra quarters, excluding MSR marks. There isn’t a purpose to rush into the inventory. At $7, or 20% under the present worth, it’s best to have a strong long-term funding.

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