Mortgage REIT ETFs

Investors have sought out mortgage-backed real estate investment trust exchange traded funds for their highly attractive yields, riding out short-term volatility as interest rates fluctuated. However, some mREITs are starting to cut back on payouts.

At least 10 mortgage REITs have reduced third-quarter payouts, including Annaly Capital Management (NYSE: NLY), American Capital Agency (NasdaqGS: AGNC) and Apollo Residential Mortgage (NYSE: AMTG), Bloomberg reports.

The mortgage REITs are reducing their use of borrowed money, incrasing interest-rate hedges, shifting to short-term debt and adding cash reserves in preparation to Fed tapering.

Retail investors could start ditching the securities after the reductions, which could cause a domino effect and force institutional investors to exit as well.

“In the past few years there was this quest for yield among retail investors so they got more into newer agency mortgage REITs such as Armour and American Capital,” Christopher Donat, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners LP, said in the article. “If those investors start selling mortgage REITs, institutions might be worried there’s more retail selling to come and not take up the slack.”

Mortgage REITS have declined this year as investors exited positions ahead of rising interest rates. [Mortgage ETF Paying 15% Yield After Price Pullback]

“Mortgage REITs are very susceptible to rising rate risk. Mortgage REITs cut their distributions and performed poorly during past rising rate environments,” according to Morningstar analyst Abby Woodham. [Rising Interest Rates Pull REIT ETFs Toward Bear Market]