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Article by DailyStocks_admin    (11-18-13 04:23 AM)

Description

HATTERAS FINANCIAL CORP. President and COO Benjamin M Hough bought 12,000 shares on 13-11-2013 at $ 16.88

BUSINESS OVERVIEW

Our Company

We are an externally-managed mortgage REIT that invests primarily in single-family residential mortgage pass-through securities guaranteed or issued by a U.S. Government agency (such as the Government National Mortgage Association (“Ginnie Mae”)), or by a U.S. Government-sponsored entity (such as the Federal National Mortgage Association, (“Fannie Mae”)), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, (“Freddie Mac”)). We refer to these securities as “agency securities.” We were incorporated in Maryland in September 2007 and commenced operations in November 2007. We listed our common stock on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) in April 2008 and trade under the symbol “HTS.”

We are externally-managed and advised by our manager, Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC.

We are organized and conduct our operations to qualify as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), and generally are not subject to federal taxes on our income to the extent we distribute our income to our shareholders and maintain our qualification as a REIT.

Our Strategy

Our principal goal is to generate net income for distribution to our shareholders, through regular quarterly dividends, from the difference between the interest income on our investment portfolio and the interest costs of our borrowings and hedging activities, which we refer to as our net interest income, and other expenses. In general, our strategy is to manage interest rate risk while trying to eliminate any exposure to credit risk. We believe that the best approach to generating a positive net interest income is to manage our liabilities in relation to the interest rate risks of our investments. To help achieve this result, we employ repurchase financing, generally short-term, and combine our financings with hedging techniques, relying primarily on interest rate swaps. We may, subject to maintaining our REIT qualification, also employ other hedging techniques from time to time, including interest rate caps, floors and swap options to protect against adverse interest rate movements.

We focus on agency securities consisting of mortgage loans with short effective durations, which we believe limits the impact of changes in interest rates on the market value of our portfolio and on our net interest income. However, because our investments vary in interest rate, prepayment speed and maturity, the leverage or borrowings that we employ to fund our asset purchases will never exactly match the terms or performance of our assets, even after we have employed our hedging techniques. Based on our manager’s experience, the interest rates of our assets will change more slowly than the corresponding short-term borrowings used to finance our assets. Consequently, changes in interest rates, particularly short-term interest rates, may significantly influence our net income and shareholders’ equity.

Our manager’s approach to managing our portfolio is to take a longer term view of assets and liabilities; accordingly, our periodic earnings and mark-to-market valuations at the end of a period will not significantly influence our strategy of providing stable cash distributions to shareholders over the long term. Our manager has invested and seeks to invest in agency securities that it believes are likely to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns on capital invested, after considering (1) the amount and nature of anticipated cash flows from the asset, (2) our ability to borrow against the asset, (3) the capital requirements resulting from the purchase and financing of the asset, and (4) the costs of financing, hedging, and managing the asset.

Our Assets

Our focus on asset selection is to own assets with short durations and predictable prepayment characteristics. Since our formation, all of our invested assets have been in agency securities, and we currently intend that our investment assets will continue to be agency securities. These agency securities currently consist of mortgages that have principal and interest payments guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. We invest in both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate agency securities. Adjustable rate mortgages (“ARMs”) are mortgages that have floating interest rates that reset on a specific time schedule, such as monthly, quarterly or annually, based on a specified index, such as the 12-month moving average of the one-year constant maturity U.S. Treasury rate (“CMT”) or the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). The ARMs we generally invest in, sometimes referred to as hybrid ARMS, have interest rates that are fixed for an initial period (typically three, five, seven or 10 years) and then reset annually thereafter to an increment over a pre-determined interest rate index.

Our Borrowings

We borrow against our agency securities using repurchase agreements. Our borrowings generally have maturities that range from one month to one year, although occasionally we may enter into longer term borrowing agreements to more closely match the rate adjustment period of our securities. We intend that our borrowings will generally be between six and 12 times the amount of our shareholders’ equity. The level of our borrowings may vary periodically above or below this range depending on market conditions.

Our Hedging

Our hedging strategies are designed to reduce the impact on our income and shareholders’ equity caused by the potential adverse effects of changes in interest rates on our assets and liabilities. Subject to complying with REIT requirements, we use hedging techniques to mitigate the differences between the interest rate adjustments on our assets and borrowings as well as the risk of adverse changes in interest rates on the value of our assets. These techniques primarily consist of entering into interest rate swap agreements and may also include entering into interest rate cap or floor agreements, purchasing or selling futures contracts, purchasing put and call options on securities or securities underlying futures contracts, or entering into forward rate agreements. We record our derivative and hedge transactions in accordance with GAAP. If we fail to qualify for hedge accounting treatment as prescribed by this accounting standard, our operating results may suffer because losses on the derivatives we enter into may not be offset by a changes in the cash flows or fair value of the related hedged transaction. Consequently, any declines in the hedged interest rates would result in a charge to earnings.

Purpose of and Changes in Strategies

Our investment, financing and hedging strategies are designed to:

•
limit credit risk;

•
manage cash flows so as to provide for regular quarterly distributions to our shareholders;

•
manage financing risks;

•
mitigate the fluctuations in the market value of our securities due to changing interest rates;

•
reduce the impact that changing interest rates have on our net interest income;

•
maintain our qualification as a REIT; and

•
comply with available exemptions from regulation as an investment company under the Investment Company Act.

Our board of directors has adopted a policy that currently limits our investments to agency securities. Due to changes in market conditions, the market value and duration of our securities will fluctuate from time to time and may cause our portfolio allocations to be inconsistent with the investment strategies described in this report. In such event, in consultation with our board of directors, our manager may recommend that we should reallocate our portfolio. Subject to our intent to qualify for an exemption from registration under the Investment Company Act and to maintain our qualification as a REIT, our board of directors, with the approval of a majority of our independent directors, may vary our investment strategy, our financing strategy or our hedging strategy at any time.

Our Manager

We believe our relationship with our manager, Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC, enables us to leverage our manager’s infrastructure, business relationships and management expertise to execute our investment strategy effectively. We believe that our manager’s expertise in mortgage REIT operations, agency securities, and the mortgage-backed securities (“MBS”) and leveraged finance markets enhances our ability to acquire assets opportunistically and to finance those assets in a manner designed to generate consistent risk-adjusted returns for our shareholders.
Pursuant to the terms of the management agreement, our manager provides us with our management team, including a chief executive officer and a chief financial officer (each of whom also serves as an officer of our manager) along with appropriate support personnel. Our manager is responsible for our operations and the performance of all services and activities relating to the management of our assets and operations, subject to the direction of our board of directors.

Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC manages both our company and ACM Financial Trust (“ACM”), a privately-held mortgage REIT founded in 1998. Michael R. Hough, our chief executive officer, is also the chief executive officer of our manager and ACM. Our president Benjamin M. Hough, chief financial officer Kenneth A. Steele, co-chief investment officer William H. Gibbs, Jr., and co-chief investment officer Frederick J. Boos, II are all also executives of our manager and of ACM. As of December 31, 2012, ACM owned approximately $ 1.7 billion in agency securities. We do not own any interest in ACM.

The Management Agreement

On February 23, 2012, we entered into a new management agreement with our manager, Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC (“ACA”). The new management agreement replaced the 2007 management agreement entered into at the time of our initial capitalization as a private company and before our initial public offering in 2008. The management agreement requires our manager to manage our business affairs in conformity with policies and investment guidelines that are approved by a majority of our independent directors and monitored by our board of directors. Our manager is subject to the direction and oversight of our board of directors. Our manager is responsible for (1) the identification, selection, purchase and sale of our portfolio investments, (2) our financing and risk management activities, and (3) providing us with investment advisory services. In addition, our manager is responsible for our day-to-day operations.
The initial term of the management agreement expires on February 23, 2015. Under the terms of the agreement, it will automatically renew for an additional one year term on February 23 of each year thereafter unless terminated or otherwise renegotiated.

Our manager is entitled to receive a management fee payable monthly in arrears in an amount equal to 1/12th of an amount determined as follows:

•
for our equity up to $250 million, 1.50% (per annum) of equity; plus

•
for our equity in excess of $250 million and up to $500 million, 1.10% (per annum) of equity; plus

•
for our equity in excess of $500 million and up to $750 million, 0.80% (per annum) of equity; plus

•
for our equity in excess of $750 million, 0.50% (per annum) of equity.

For purposes of calculating the management fee, we define equity as the value, computed in accordance with GAAP, of our shareholders’ equity, adjusted to exclude the effects of unrealized gains or losses. Under the terms of the management agreement, we also reimburse ACA for certain of our operating expenses that are borne by ACA.

There is no incentive compensation payable to our manager pursuant to the management agreement.

Competition

Our success depends, in large part, on our ability to acquire assets at favorable spreads over our borrowing costs. In acquiring agency securities, we compete with other mortgage REITs, mortgage finance and specialty finance companies, savings and loan associations, banks, mortgage bankers, insurance companies, mutual funds, institutional investors, investment banking firms, governmental bodies and other entities. In addition, there are numerous mortgage REITs with similar asset acquisition objectives, including ACM, and others may be organized in the future. The effect of the existence of additional REITs may be to increase competition for the available supply of mortgage assets suitable for purchase.

Employees

We are managed by Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC pursuant to the management agreement between our manager and us. We do not have any employees whom we compensate directly with salaries or other cash compensation. Our manager has 13 employees.

Additional Information

We have made available copies of the charters of the committees of our board of directors, our code of business ethics and conduct, our corporate governance guidelines, our whistleblower policy and any materials we file with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on our website at www.hatfin.com . Copies of these documents are available in print to any shareholder who requests them. Requests should be sent to Hatteras Financial Corp., 110 Oakwood Drive, Suite 340, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27103, Attention: Corporate Secretary.

All reports filed with the SEC may also be read and copied at the SEC’s public reference room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. Further information regarding the operation of the public reference room may be obtained by calling 1-800-SEC-0330. In addition, all of our filed reports can be obtained at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov .

CEO BACKGROUND

Our board of directors consists of six members with directors serving one-year terms and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. The term for each director expires at each annual meeting of shareholders.

At the 2013 annual meeting, all six directors will be elected to serve until the 2014 annual meeting and until their successors are duly elected and qualified. The board of directors has nominated our current directors, Michael R. Hough, Benjamin M. Hough, David W. Berson, Ira G. Kawaller, Jeffrey D. Miller and Thomas D. Wren, to serve as directors (the “Nominees”). The board of directors anticipates that each Nominee will serve, if elected, as a director. However, if anyone nominated by the board of directors is unable to accept election, the proxies will be voted for the election of such other person or persons as the board of directors may recommend.

The board of directors recommends a vote FOR each Nominee.

The Board of Directors

Our manager, Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC, manages our day-to-day operations, subject to the supervision of our board of directors. Members of our board are kept informed of our business through discussions with our manager’s executive officers, by reviewing materials provided to them and by participating in meetings of the board and its committees.

Information Regarding the Nominees

The biographical descriptions below set forth certain information with respect to each Nominee for election as a director at the annual meeting. Each of our current directors has served on the board since our initial private offering, which was consummated in November 2007. The board has identified specific attributes of each Nominee that the board has determined qualify that person for service on the board.

Michael R. Hough

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Age: 52

Mr. Hough is the chief executive officer of our manager and has been our chairman and chief executive officer since September 2007. Mr. Hough is a co-founder and director of our manager and ACM Financial Trust, Inc., a private mortgage real estate investment trust managed by our manager (“ACM”). Since founding ACM in 1998, Mr. Hough has been responsible for managing all aspects of the operations and growth of ACM. From 1988 to 1997, Mr. Hough was a principal and founding member of First Winston Securities, Inc., a regional fixed-income broker-dealer where he was head of taxable trading and sales. From 1983 to 1987, Mr. Hough worked as a taxable trader in the fixed income department of Wachovia Bank N.A. He holds a B.A. degree in economics from Wake Forest University. Michael R. Hough and Benjamin M. Hough, our president, chief operating officer and director, are brothers.

The board of directors has determined that it is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders for Mr. Hough, in light of his day-to-day company-specific operational experience, finance and market experience and his mortgage real estate investment trust experience, to continue to serve as a director of the board of directors, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting.


Benjamin M. Hough

President, Chief Operating Officer and Director

Age: 48

Mr. Hough is the president and chief operating officer of our manager and has been our president and chief operating officer since September 2007. Mr. Hough is a co-founder and has been a director of our manager and ACM since 2007 and 2001, respectively. From 1997 to 2001, he was the head of the BB&T Capital Markets office in Winston-Salem, NC where he was vice president of institutional fixed income sales and trading. From 1995 to 1997, Mr. Hough was the head of the First National Bank of Maryland office in Washington, DC where he served as vice president of fixed income sales. Prior to that, Mr. Hough was vice president of NationsBanc Capital Markets, previously American Security Bank, in institutional fixed income trading and sales. Mr. Hough holds a B.A. degree in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Benjamin M. Hough and Michael R. Hough, our chairman and chief executive officer, are brothers.

The board of directors has determined that it is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders for Mr. Hough, in light of his day-to-day company-specific operational experience, and his experience with fixed income markets, balance sheet management, portfolio analysis and mortgage real estate investment trusts, to continue to serve as a director of the board of directors, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting.

David W. Berson

Independent Director

Age: 58

Committees :

•
Compensation and Governance

Dr. Berson has been a member of our board of directors since November 2007. Dr. Berson serves as senior vice president and chief economist for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, where he leads a team of economic analysts delivering economic forecasts and analyses. Prior to joining Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, Dr. Berson served as senior vice president, chief economist and strategist at The PMI Group from 2007 to 2012, where he was responsible for analyses and forecasts of the economy, housing and mortgage markets; domestic/global research and planning; and strategic planning. Prior to joining The PMI Group, Dr. Berson was vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. Prior to that, Dr. Berson was a senior economist at the U.S. League of Savings Institutions. In addition, Dr. Berson was the chief financial economist at Wharton Econometrics, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and an assistant professor of economics at Claremont McKenna College and Claremont Graduate School. His U.S. government experience includes staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisors and economic analyst at the Treasury Department. Dr. Berson holds a Ph.D. in economics and an M.P.P. in public policy from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in history and economics from Williams College.

The board of directors has determined that it is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders for Dr. Berson, in light of his expertise in risk analytics and the economy, housing and mortgage markets and his Fannie Mae experience, to continue to serve as a director of the board of directors, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting.

Ira G. Kawaller

Independent Director

Age: 63

Committees :

•
Audit

•
Compensation and Governance

Dr. Kawaller has been a member of our board of directors since November 2007. Dr. Kawaller founded Kawaller & Co., LLC in 1998, a consulting firm that specializes in assisting commercial enterprises in their use of derivative instruments in managing their financial risk. In addition to his consulting activities, Dr. Kawaller also served as the managing partner of the Kawaller Fund, a derivatives-only commodity pool, which operated between 2004 to 2011. Prior to founding Kawaller & Co., LLC, Dr. Kawaller was the vice president and director of the New York office of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prior to that, he held positions at J. Aron & Company, AT&T, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Dr. Kawaller has been a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s Derivatives Implementation Group and the Government Accounting Standards Board’s Derivative Instrument Task force on Derivatives and Hedging. He has also been a member of the board of the International Association of Financial Engineers. Dr. Kawaller has held adjunct professorships at Columbia University and Polytechnic University. He received a Ph.D. in Economics from Purdue University.

Given the nature of our business and our reliance on derivative instruments for risk management purposes, the board of directors has determined that it is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders for Dr. Kawaller, in light of his expertise and significant experience in derivative instruments for risk management purposes and his accounting and finance experience, to continue to serve as a director of the board of directors, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting.

Jeffrey D. Miller

Lead Independent Director

Age: 42

Committees :

•
Audit

•
Compensation and Governance (Chair)

Mr. Miller has been a member of our board of directors since November 2007. Since March 2007, Mr. Miller has served as vice president, general counsel and secretary of Highwoods Properties, Inc. (NYSE: HIW). Prior to joining Highwoods Properties, Inc., Mr. Miller was a partner with the law firm of DLA Piper LLP (US) where he concentrated his practice on securities, corporate governance and related strategic matters, and served as general outside counsel to a variety of publicly-traded real estate investment trusts. Prior to that, Mr. Miller was a partner with the law firm of Alston & Bird LLP. Mr. Miller holds a B.A. from Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. and M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. He is admitted to practice law in North Carolina.

The board of directors has determined that it is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders for Mr. Miller, in light of his public company corporate governance expertise and significant experience providing strategic advice to public real estate investment trusts, to continue to serve as a director of the board of directors, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting.

Thomas D. Wren

Independent Director

Age: 61

Committees :

•
Audit (Chair)

Mr. Wren has been a member of our board of directors since November 2007. Mr. Wren is also a director and shareholder of ACM. Mr. Wren was the treasurer of MBNA America and served as director of funds management in the treasury division. As a group executive and treasurer, Mr. Wren oversaw the company’s investment and funding activities including liquidity management, investment portfolio management, structured finance, and all related capital market programs. He currently serves on the board of directors and the investment committee for the Delaware Community Foundation. He is a member of the finance committee and serves as chairman of the investment committee of the Christiana Care Health System. In addition, Mr. Wren serves on the board of directors and chairs the audit committees for Brandywine, Brandywine Blue and Brandywine Advisors, domestic mutual funds managed by Freiss Associates, LLC. Previously, Mr. Wren served as a member of the board of directors, as well as the audit and executive committees of Citibank (South Dakota), N.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Citigroup, Inc. Prior to joining MBNA America, Mr. Wren was chief investment and funding officer for Shawmut National Corporation. Prior to that, Mr. Wren worked for the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) for 18 years, which included managing the OCC’s London operation.

The board of directors has determined that it is in the best interests of our company and our shareholders for Mr. Wren, in light of his public company accounting and financial reporting expertise, his banking and finance experience, and his senior officer and directorship experiences, to continue to serve as a director of the board of directors, subject to shareholder approval at the annual meeting.

Biographical Information Regarding Executive Officers Who Are Not Directors
Each of the executive officers identified below has served in his respective position since our inception.

Kenneth A. Steele

Chief Financial Officer, Secretary and Treasurer

Age: 49

Mr. Steele is the chief financial officer, secretary and treasurer of our manager and has been our chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary since September 2007. Since September 2002, Mr. Steele has also been the chief financial officer, secretary and treasurer of ACM. Prior to joining ACM, Mr. Steele had been a senior manager with Dixon Odom PLLC, an accounting firm, where he specialized in real estate, financial institutions, and mergers and acquisitions since 1991. He was responsible for the firm’s real estate investment trust tax work and for public and private real estate investment partnerships. He also provided consulting services related to corporate finance, commercial and residential development, and equity investment. A certified public accountant, Mr. Steele earned a Masters of Accounting from the Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. degree in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

William H. Gibbs, Jr.

Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Investment Officer

Age: 53

Mr. Gibbs is the executive vice president and co-chief investment officer of our manager and has been our executive vice president and co-chief investment officer since September 2007. Mr. Gibbs is a co-founder and has been a director of our manager and ACM since 2007 and 2002, respectively. Prior to that, Mr. Gibbs was a senior vice president of BB&T Capital Markets from 1999 to 2002 and was responsible for the Baltimore-Washington region. From 1982 to 1999, Mr. Gibbs served as managing director of the First National Bank of Maryland capital markets group managing the financial institutions portfolio group. Mr. Gibbs has helped advise financial institutions with structuring and implementing their investment portfolios and the development of asset/liability management strategies. He holds a B.S. degree in economics and finance from Towson University.

Frederick J. Boos, II

Executive Vice President and Co-Chief Investment Officer

Age: 59

Mr. Boos is the executive vice president and co-chief investment officer of our manager and has been our executive vice president and co-chief investment officer since September 2007. Since March 2006, Mr. Boos has been the executive vice president and co-chief investment officer of ACM. Prior to joining ACM, Mr. Boos had been an executive vice president and director of asset liability and capital management for MBNA America from 2003 to 2006. Mr. Boos has previously served as senior vice president and investment portfolio manager for multiple regional banks including Maryland National Bank, First National Bank of Maryland, Shawmut National Bank and American Security Bank. His prior bank treasury responsibilities include liquidity and risk management, capital management, economic capital planning, residential mortgage portfolio management as well as numerous bank ALCO Directorships. He holds a Masters of Business Administration from American University and a B.S. in finance from the University of Maryland, College Park.

MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION FROM LATEST 10K

Overview

We are an externally-managed mortgage REIT incorporated in Maryland in September 2007 to invest in single-family residential mortgage pass-through securities guaranteed or issued by a U.S. Government agency (such as Ginnie Mae), or by a U.S. Government-sponsored entity (such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Our principal goal is to generate net income for distribution to our shareholders through regular quarterly dividends and protect and grow our shareholders’ equity (which we also refer to as our “book value”) through prudent interest rate risk management. Our net income is determined primarily by the difference between the interest income we earn on our agency securities net of premium or discount amortization and the cost of our borrowings and hedging activities, which we also refer to as our net interest spread or net interest margin. We utilize substantial borrowings in financing our investment portfolio, which can enhance potential returns but exacerbate losses. In general, our book value is most affected by our issuance of shares of our common stock, our retained earnings or losses, and changes in the value of our investment portfolio and our hedging instruments.

In order to grow our company, we may from time to time raise additional capital using various market based transactions. Accordingly, all of our financial results and data should be viewed with the knowledge that our equity raises have been significant for our company, and that some period to period comparisons may not be meaningful or may produce comparisons that may be misleading to future activity and results.

Factors that Affect our Results of Operations and Financial Condition

Our results of operations and financial condition are affected by various factors, many of which are beyond our control, including, among other things, our net interest income, the market value of our assets and the supply of and demand for such assets. We invest in financial assets and markets, and recent events, including those discussed below, can affect our business in ways that are difficult to predict, and produce results outside of typical operating variances. Our net interest income varies primarily as a result of changes in interest rates, borrowing costs and prepayment speeds, the behavior of which involves various risks and uncertainties. Prepayment rates, as reflected by the rate of principal paydown, and interest rates vary according to the type of investment, conditions in financial markets, government actions, competition and other factors, none of which can be predicted with any certainty. In general, as prepayment rates on our agency securities purchased at a premium increase, related purchase premium amortization increases, thereby reducing the net yield on such assets. Because changes in interest rates may significantly affect our activities, our operating results depend, in large part, upon our ability to manage interest rate risks and prepayment risks effectively while maintaining our status as a REIT.

We anticipate that, for any period during which changes in the interest rates earned on our assets do not coincide with interest rate changes on our borrowings, such asset coupon rates will reprice more slowly than the corresponding liabilities used to finance those assets. Consequently, changes in interest rates, particularly short-term interest rates, may significantly influence our net interest income. With the maturities of our assets generally being longer term than those of our liabilities, interest rate increases will tend to decrease our net interest income and the market value of our assets (and therefore our book value). Such rate increases could possibly result in operating losses or adversely affect our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Prepayments on agency securities and the underlying mortgage loans may be influenced by changes in market interest rates and a variety of economic, geographic and other factors beyond our control; and consequently such prepayment rates cannot be predicted with certainty. To the extent we have acquired agency securities at a premium or discount to par, or face value, changes in prepayment rates may impact our anticipated yield. In periods of declining interest rates, prepayments on our agency securities will likely increase. If we are unable to reinvest the proceeds of these prepayments at comparable yields, our net interest income may suffer. The current climate of government intervention in the mortgage market significantly increases the risk associated with prepayments.

While we intend to use hedging to mitigate some of our interest rate risk, we do not intend to hedge all of our exposure to changes in interest rates and prepayment rates, as there are practical limitations on our ability to insulate our portfolio from all potential negative consequences associated with changes in short-term interest rates in a manner that will allow us to seek attractive net spreads on our portfolio.

In addition, a variety of other factors relating to our business may also impact our financial condition and operating performance. These factors include:

•
our degree of leverage;

•
our access to funding and borrowing capacity;

•
our borrowing costs;

•
our hedging activities;

•
the market value of our agency securities; and

•
the REIT requirements, the requirements to qualify for an exemption under the Investment Company Act and other regulatory and accounting policies related to our business.

Our manager is entitled to receive a management fee that is based on our equity (as defined in our management agreement), regardless of the performance of our portfolio. Accordingly, the payment of our management fee may not decline in the event of a decline in our profitability and may cause us to incur losses.

For a discussion of additional risks relating to our business see Item 1A—“Risk Factors”.

Market and Interest Rate Trends and the Effect on our Portfolio

Credit Market Disruption

Since 2007, the residential housing and mortgage markets in the United States have experienced a variety of difficulties and challenging economic conditions including historically high loan defaults and credit losses, as well as decreased liquidity. Recently, the financial weakness of some of the European Union sovereign nations has renewed concerns of the stability of financial systems worldwide. Further increased volatility and deterioration in the overall financial markets may adversely affect the performance and market value of the agency securities in which we invest. In addition, we rely on the availability of financing to acquire agency securities on a leveraged basis. If market conditions deteriorate further, our lenders may exit the repurchase market, further tighten lending standards, or increase the amount of equity capital (or “haircut”) required to obtain financing, any of which could make it more difficult or costly for us to obtain financing.

Developments at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Payments on the agency securities in which we invest are guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because of the guarantee and the underwriting standards associated with mortgages underlying agency securities, agency securities historically have had high stability in value and have been considered to present low credit risk. In 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed under the conservatorship of the U.S. government due to the significant weakness of their financial condition. The turmoil in the residential mortgage sector and concern over the future role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the time generally increased credit spreads and decreased price stability of agency securities. In response to the credit market disruption and the deteriorating financial condition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress and the U.S. Treasury undertook a series of actions in 2008 aimed at stabilizing the financial markets in general, and the mortgage market in particular. These actions include the large-scale buying of MBS, significant equity infusions into banks and aggressive monetary policy.

In February 2011, the U.S. Treasury along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report entitled “ Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market ” to Congress outlining alternatives for reforming the U.S. housing system, specifically Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and transforming the government’s involvement in the housing market. Other industry groups, such as the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association Home Builders, have also issued proposals outlining their views of the path for housing reform. It is unclear how future legislation may impact the housing finance market and the investing environment for agency securities, as the method of reform is undecided and has not yet been defined by the regulators. Without government support for residential mortgages, we may not be able to execute our current business model in an efficient manner.

On October 4, 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (the “FHFA”) released its white paper entitled “Building a New Infrastructure for the Secondary Mortgage Market” (the “FHFA White Paper”). This release follows up on the FHFA’s February 21, 2012 Strategic Plan for Enterprise Conservatorships, which set forth three goals for the next phase of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conservatorships. These three goals are to (i) build a new infrastructure for the secondary mortgage market, (ii) gradually contract Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s presence in the marketplace while simplifying and shrinking their operations, and (iii) maintain foreclosure prevention activities and credit availability for new and refinanced mortgages.

The FHFA White Paper proposes a new infrastructure for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that has two basic goals. The first goal is to replace the current, outdated infrastructures of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a common, more efficient infrastructure that aligns the standards and practices of the two entities, beginning with core functions performed by both entities such as issuance, master servicing, bond administration, collateral management and data integration. The second goal is to establish an operating framework for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that is consistent with the progress of housing finance reform and encourages and accommodates the increased participation of private capital in assuming credit risk associated with the secondary mortgage market. The FHFA recognizes that there are a number of impediments to their goals which may or may not be surmountable, such as the absence of any significant secondary mortgage market mechanisms beyond Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, and that their proposals are in the formative stages. As a result, it is unclear if the proposals will be enacted. If such proposals are enacted, it is unclear how closely what is enacted will resemble the proposals from the FHFA White Paper or what the effects of the enactment will be.

U.S. Treasury and Agency Securities Market Intervention

One of the main factors impacting market prices has been the U.S. Federal Reserve’s programs to purchase U.S. Treasury and agency securities in the open market. On September 21, 2011, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced “Operation Twist,” which is a program by which it purchased, by the end of December 2012, more than $650 billion of U.S. Treasury securities with remaining maturities between six and 30 years and sold an equal amount of U.S. Treasury securities with remaining maturities of three years or less. In December 2012, in an effort to keep long-term interest rates at low levels, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced an expansion of its asset buying program starting in January 2013, at which time it would commence outright purchases of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month. This new U.S. Treasury securities purchase program replaces “Operation Twist,” which expired in December 2012. On January 30, 2013, the U.S. Federal Reserve affirmed its intention to continue this policy. By reducing the available supply of longer term U.S. Treasury securities in the market, these actions should put downward pressure on longer term interest rates, including rates on financial assets that investors consider to be close substitutes for longer term U.S. Treasury securities, like certain types of agency securities. The reduction in longer term interest rates, in turn, may contribute to a broad easing in financial market conditions that the U.S. Federal Reserve hopes will provide additional stimulus to support the economic recovery.

In September 2012, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced a third round of “quantitative easing” aimed to improve the employment outlook and increase growth in the U.S. economy. To accomplish this goal, it announced that it would purchase at least $40 billion of agency securities per month on an “open-ended” timeline, in addition to the reinvestment of the proceeds of principal repayments from its existing MBS holdings. Additionally, it pledged to keep short-term interest rates near zero for an extended period of time, currently estimated by the U.S. Federal Reserve to be at least mid-2015.

These programs have had many effects on our assets. One effect of these purchases has been an increase in the prices of agency securities, which has contributed to the decrease of our net interest margin. The unpredictability of these programs has also injected additional volatility into the pricing and availability of our assets. It is difficult to quantify the impact, as there are many factors at work at the same time which affects the price of our securities and, therefore, our yield and book value. Due to the unpredictability in the markets for our securities in particular and yield generating assets in general, there is no pattern that can be implied with any certainty. We believe the largest risk is that if the government decides to sell significant portions of its portfolio, then we may see meaningful price declines.

U.S. Government Credit Rating

The U.S. debt ceiling and budget deficit concerns in mid-2011 led to the downgrade by Standard & Poor’s of the U.S. government’s credit rating for the first time in history. Assets backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are considered to have the credit of the U.S. government, and thus were also downgraded at that time. While the other rating agencies have not downgraded the U.S. government’s rating, if they were to do so it would likely impact the perceived credit risk associated with agency securities and, therefore, decrease the value of the agency securities in our portfolio. In addition, further downgrades of the U.S. government’s credit rating or the credit ratings of certain European countries would likely create broader financial turmoil and uncertainty, which could have a serious negative impact on the global banking system. This could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Regulatory Concerns

We believe that we conduct our business in a manner that allows us to avoid being regulated as an investment company under the Investment Company Act pursuant to the exemption provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) for entities that are primarily engaged in the business of purchasing or otherwise acquiring “mortgages and other liens on and interests in real estate.” On August 31, 2011, the SEC issued a concept release (No. IC-29778; File No. SW7-34-11, Companies Engaged in the Business of Acquiring Mortgages and Mortgage-Related Instruments) pursuant to which it is reviewing whether certain companies that invest in MBS and rely on the exemption from registration under Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act (such as us) should continue to be allowed to rely on such exemption from registration. If we fail to continue to qualify for this exemption from registration as an investment company, or the SEC determines that companies that invest in MBS are no longer able to rely on this exemption, our ability to use leverage would be substantially reduced and we would be unable to conduct our business as planned, or we may be required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act, either of which could negatively affect the value of shares of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.
Certain programs initiated by the U.S. Government, through the Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), to provide homeowners with assistance in avoiding residential mortgage loan foreclosures are currently in effect. The programs may involve, among other things, the modification of mortgage loans to reduce the principal amount of the loans or the rate of interest payable on the loans, or to extend the payment terms of the loans. While the effect of these programs has not been as extensive as originally expected, the effect of such programs for holders of agency securities could be that such holders would experience changes in the anticipated yields of their agency securities due to (i) increased prepayment rates and (ii) lower interest and principal payments.

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) into law. The Dodd-Frank Act is extensive, complicated and comprehensive legislation that impacts practically all aspects of banking, and a significant overhaul of many aspects of the regulation of the financial services industry. Although many provisions remain subject to further rulemaking, the Dodd-Frank Act implements numerous and far-reaching changes that affect financial companies, including our company, and other banks and institutions which are important to our business model. Certain notable rules are, among other things:

•
requiring regulation and oversight of large, systemically important financial institutions by establishing an interagency council on systemic risk and implementation of heightened prudential standards and regulation by the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve for systemically important financial institutions (including nonbank financial companies), as well as the implementation of the FDIC resolution procedures for liquidation of large financial companies to avoid market disruption;

•
applying the same leverage and risk-based capital requirements that apply to insured depository institutions to most bank holding companies, savings and loan holding companies and systemically important nonbank financial companies;

•
limiting the U.S. Federal Reserve’s emergency authority to lend to nondepository institutions to facilities with broad-based eligibility, and authorizing the FDIC to establish an emergency financial stabilization fund for solvent depository institutions and their holding companies, subject to the approval of Congress, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Federal Reserve;

•
creating regimes for regulation of over-the-counter derivatives and non-admitted property and casualty insurers and reinsurers;

•
implementing regulation of hedge fund and private equity advisers by requiring such advisers to register with the SEC;

•
providing for the implementation of corporate governance provisions for all public companies concerning proxy access and executive compensation; and

•
reforming regulation of credit rating agencies.

Many of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, including certain provisions described above are subject to further study, rulemaking, and the discretion of regulatory bodies. As the hundreds of regulations called for by the Dodd-Frank Act are promulgated, we will continue to evaluate the impact of any such regulations. It is unclear how this legislation may impact the borrowing environment, investing environment for agency securities and interest rate swaps as much of the bill’s implementation has not yet been defined by the regulators.

In addition, in 2010, the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervisors of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the oversight body of the Basel Committee, published its “calibrated” capital standards for major banking institutions (“Basel III”). Under these standards, when fully phased in on January 1, 2019, banking institutions will be required to maintain heightened Tier 1 common equity, Tier 1 capital and total capital ratios, as well as maintaining a “capital conservation buffer.” Beginning with the Tier 1 common equity and Tier 1 capital ratio requirements, Basel III will be phased in incrementally between January 1, 2013 and January 1, 2019. The final package of Basel III reforms were approved by the G20 leaders in November 2010 and are subject to individual adoption by member nations, including the United States by January 1, 2013. It is unclear how the adoption of Basel III will affect our business at this time.

In September 2011, the Administration announced it was working on a major plan to allow certain homeowners who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth to refinance. In October 2011, the FHFA announced changes to HARP to expand access to refinancing for qualified individuals and families whose homes have lost value, including increasing the HARP loan-to-value ratio above 125%. However, this would only apply to mortgages guaranteed by the U.S. government-sponsored entities. In addition, the expansion does not change the time period which these loans were originated, maintaining the requirement that the loans must have been guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 2009. There are many challenging issues to this proposal, notably the question as to whether a loan with a loan-to-value ratio of 125% qualifies as a mortgage or an unsecured consumer loan. The chances of this initiative’s success have created additional uncertainty in the agency securities market, particularly with respect to possible increases in prepayment rates. We do not expect this announcement to have a significant impact on our results of operations.

On January 4, 2012, the U.S. Federal Reserve released a report titled “The U.S. Housing Market: Current Conditions and Policy Considerations” to Congress providing a framework for thinking about certain issues and tradeoffs that policy makers might consider. It is unclear how future legislation may impact the housing finance market and the investing environment for agency securities as the method of reform is undecided and has not yet been defined by the regulators.

MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION FOR LATEST QUARTER

Overview

We are an externally-managed mortgage REIT that invests primarily in single-family residential mortgage pass-through securities guaranteed or issued by a U.S. Government agency (such as the Ginnie Mae), or by a U.S. Government-sponsored entity (such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). We refer to these securities as “agency securities.” We were incorporated in Maryland in September 2007 and commenced operations in November 2007. We listed our common stock on the New York Stock Exchange (“NYSE”) in April 2008 and trade under the symbol “HTS.”

We are externally-managed and advised by our manager, Atlantic Capital Advisors LLC.

We are organized and conduct our operations to qualify as a REIT under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), and generally are not subject to federal taxes on our income to the extent we distribute our income to our shareholders and maintain our qualification as a REIT.
Our principal goal is to generate net income for distribution to our shareholders, through regular quarterly dividends, from the difference between the interest income on our investment portfolio and the interest costs of our borrowings and hedging activities, which we refer to as our net interest income, and other expenses. In general, our strategy is to manage interest rate risk while trying to eliminate any exposure to credit risk. We believe that the best approach to generating a positive net interest income is to manage our liabilities in relation to the interest rate risks of our investments. To help achieve this result, we employ repurchase financing, generally short-term, and combine our financings with various hedging techniques, such as interest rate swaps and buying and selling futures. We may, subject to maintaining our REIT qualification, also employ other hedging instruments from time to time, including interest rate caps, collars and swaptions to protect against adverse interest rate movements.

We focus on agency securities consisting of mortgage loans with short effective durations, which we believe limits the impact of changes in interest rates on the market value of our portfolio and on our net interest income. However, because our investments vary in interest rate, prepayment speed and maturity, the leverage or borrowings that we employ to fund our asset purchases will never exactly match the terms or performance of our assets, even after we have employed our hedging techniques. Based on our manager’s experience, the interest rates of our assets will change more slowly than the corresponding short-term borrowings used to finance our assets. Consequently, changes in interest rates, particularly short-term interest rates, may significantly influence our net income and shareholders’ equity.

Our manager’s approach to managing our portfolio is to take a longer term view of assets and liabilities; accordingly, our periodic earnings and mark-to-market valuations at the end of a period will not significantly influence our strategy of providing stable cash distributions to shareholders over the long term. Our manager has invested and seeks to invest in agency securities that it believes are likely to generate attractive risk-adjusted returns on capital invested, after considering (1) the amount and nature of anticipated cash flows from the asset, (2) our ability to borrow against the asset, (3) the capital requirements resulting from the purchase and financing of the asset, and (4) the costs of financing, hedging, and managing the asset.

Our focus on asset selection is to own assets with short durations and predictable prepayment characteristics. Since our formation, all of our invested assets have been in agency securities, and we currently intend that the majority of our investment assets will continue to be agency securities. These agency securities currently consist of mortgages that have principal and interest payments guaranteed by Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. We invest in both fixed-rate and adjustable-rate agency securities. Adjustable rate mortgages (“ARMs”) are mortgages that have floating interest rates that reset on a specific time schedule, such as monthly, quarterly or annually, based on a specified index, such as the 12-month moving average of the one-year constant maturity U.S. Treasury rate (“CMT”) or the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). The ARMs we generally invest in, sometimes referred to as hybrid ARMS, have interest rates that are fixed for an initial period (typically three, five, seven or 10 years) and then reset annually thereafter to an increment over a pre-determined interest rate index. As of September 30, 2013, our portfolio consisted of approximately $20.8 billion in market value of agency securities, consisting of $19.7 billion of adjustable-rate securities and $1.1 billion of fixed rate securities.

Factors that Affect our Results of Operations and Financial Condition

Our results of operations and financial condition are affected by various factors, many of which are beyond our control, including, among other things, our net interest income, the market value of our assets and the supply of and demand for such assets. We invest in financial assets and markets, and recent events, including those discussed below, can affect our business in ways that are difficult to predict, and produce results outside of typical operating variances. Our net interest income varies primarily as a result of changes in interest rates, borrowing costs and prepayment speeds, the behavior of which involves various risks and uncertainties. Prepayment rates, as reflected by the rate of principal paydown, and interest rates vary according to the type of investment, conditions in financial markets, government actions, competition and other factors, none of which can be predicted with any certainty. In general, as prepayment rates on our agency securities purchased at a premium increase, related purchase premium amortization increases, thereby reducing the net yield on such assets. Because changes in interest rates may significantly affect our activities, our operating results depend, in large part, upon our ability to manage interest rate risks and prepayment risks effectively while maintaining our status as a REIT.

We anticipate that, for any period during which changes in the interest rates earned on our assets do not coincide with interest rate changes on our borrowings, such asset coupon rates will reprice more slowly than the corresponding liabilities used to finance those assets. Consequently, changes in interest rates, particularly short-term interest rates, may significantly influence our net interest income. With the maturities of our assets generally being longer term than those of our liabilities, interest rate increases will tend to decrease our net interest income and the market value of our assets (and therefore our book value). Such rate increases could possibly result in operating losses or adversely affect our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Prepayments on agency securities and the underlying mortgage loans may be influenced by changes in market interest rates and a variety of economic, geographic and other factors beyond our control; and consequently, such prepayment rates cannot be predicted with certainty. To the extent we have acquired agency securities at a premium or discount to par, or face value, changes in prepayment rates may impact our anticipated yield. In periods of declining interest rates, prepayments on our agency securities will likely increase. If we are unable to reinvest the proceeds of these prepayments at comparable yields, our net interest income may suffer. The current climate of government intervention in the mortgage market significantly increases the risk associated with prepayments.

While we intend to use hedging to mitigate some of our interest rate risk, we do not intend to hedge all of our exposure to changes in interest rates and prepayment rates, as there are practical limitations on our ability to insulate our portfolio from all potential negative consequences associated with changes in short-term interest rates in a manner that will allow us to seek attractive net spreads on our portfolio.
In addition, a variety of other factors relating to our business may also impact our financial condition and operating performance. These factors include:

•


our degree of leverage;

•


our access to funding and borrowing capacity;

•


our borrowing costs;

•

our hedging activities;

•

the market value of our investments; and

•


the REIT requirements, the requirements to qualify for an exemption under the Investment Company Act and other regulatory and accounting policies related to our business.

Our manager is entitled to receive a management fee that is based on our equity (as defined in our management agreement), regardless of the performance of our portfolio. Accordingly, the payment of our management fee may not decline in the event of a decline in our profitability and may cause us to incur losses.

For a discussion of additional risks relating to our business see the section captioned “Risk Factors” in Part II, Item 1A of this Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q, and in our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012.

Market and Interest Rate Trends and the Effect on our Portfolio

Credit Market Disruption

Since 2007, the residential housing and mortgage markets in the United States have experienced a variety of difficulties and challenging economic conditions including historically high loan defaults and credit losses, as well as decreased liquidity. Recently, the financial weakness of some of the European Union sovereign nations has renewed concerns of the stability of financial systems worldwide. Further increased volatility and deterioration in the overall financial markets may adversely affect the performance and market value of the agency securities in which we invest. In addition, we rely on the availability of financing to acquire agency securities on a leveraged basis. If market conditions deteriorate further, our lenders may exit the repurchase market, further tighten lending standards, or increase the amount of equity capital (or “haircut”) required to obtain financing, any of which could make it more difficult or costly for us to obtain financing.

Developments at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Payments on the agency securities in which we invest are guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Because of the guarantee and the underwriting standards associated with mortgages underlying agency securities, agency securities historically have had high stability in value and have been considered to present low credit risk. In 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed under the conservatorship of the U.S. government due to the significant weakness of their financial condition. The turmoil in the residential mortgage sector and concern over the future role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the time generally increased credit spreads and decreased price stability of agency securities. In response to the credit market disruption and the deteriorating financial condition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress and the U.S. Treasury undertook a series of actions in 2008 aimed at stabilizing the financial markets in general, and the mortgage market in particular. These actions include the large-scale buying of MBS, significant equity infusions into banks and aggressive monetary policy.

In February 2011, the U.S. Treasury along with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report entitled “ Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market ” to Congress outlining alternatives for reforming the U.S. housing system, specifically Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and transforming the government’s involvement in the housing market. Other industry groups, such as the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association Home Builders, have also issued proposals outlining their views of the path for housing reform. It is unclear how future legislation may impact the housing finance market and the investing environment for agency securities, as the method of reform is undecided and has not yet been defined by the regulators. Without government support for residential mortgages, we may not be able to execute our current business model in an efficient manner.

On October 4, 2012, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (the “FHFA”) released its white paper entitled “ Building a New Infrastructure for the Secondary Mortgage Market ”. This release follows up on the FHFA’s February 21, 2012 Strategic Plan for Enterprise Conservatorships, which set forth three goals for the next phase of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac conservatorships. These three goals are to (i) build a new infrastructure for the secondary mortgage market, (ii) gradually contract Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s presence in the marketplace while simplifying and shrinking their operations, and (iii) maintain foreclosure prevention activities and credit availability for new and refinanced mortgages.

Since that time, there have been a number of other proposals introduced, both from industry groups and by the U.S. Congress. The most recent bill in Congress to receive serious consideration is the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2013, also known as the Corker-Warner bill. This legislation, among other things, would eliminate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and replace them with a new agency which would provide a financial guarantee that would only be tapped after private institutions and investors stepped in. It remains unclear whether this or any other proposals will become law or, should a proposal become law, if or how the enacted law will differ from the current draft of the bill. It is unclear how the proposals would impact housing finance, and what impact, if any, it would have on mortgage REITs.

U.S. Treasury and Agency Securities Market Intervention

One of the main factors impacting market prices has been the U.S. Federal Reserve’s programs to purchase U.S. Treasury and agency securities in the open market. On September 21, 2011, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced “Operation Twist,” which is a program by which it purchased, by the end of December 2012, more than $650 billion of U.S. Treasury securities with remaining maturities between six and 30 years and sold an equal amount of U.S. Treasury securities with remaining maturities of three years or less. In December 2012, in an effort to keep long-term interest rates at low levels, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced an expansion of its asset buying program starting in January 2013, at which time it would commence outright purchases of longer-term U.S. Treasury securities at a pace of $45 billion per month. This new U.S. Treasury securities purchase program replaces “Operation Twist,” which expired in December 2012. On January 30, 2013, the U.S. Federal Reserve affirmed its intention to continue this policy. By reducing the available supply of longer term U.S. Treasury securities in the market, these actions should put downward pressure on longer term interest rates, including rates on financial assets that investors consider to be close substitutes for longer term U.S. Treasury securities, like certain types of agency securities. The reduction in longer term interest rates, in turn, may contribute to a broad easing in financial market conditions that the U.S. Federal Reserve hopes will provide additional stimulus to support the economic recovery.

In September 2012, the U.S. Federal Reserve announced a third round of “quantitative easing” aimed to improve the employment outlook and increase growth in the U.S. economy. To accomplish this goal, it announced that it would purchase at least $40 billion of agency securities per month on an “open-ended” timeline, in addition to the reinvestment of the proceeds of principal repayments from its existing MBS holdings. Additionally, it pledged to keep short-term interest rates near zero for an extended period of time. It later increased the purchasing target from $40 billion to $85 billion per month. Most recently the discussion has focused on the ending or “tapering” of these purchases and when that may occur.

These programs have had many effects on our assets. One effect of these purchases has been an increase in the prices of agency securities, which has contributed to the decrease of our net interest margin. Likewise, the recent talk of tapering the purchases has introduced large negative price moves of our assets. The unpredictability and size of these programs has injected additional volatility into the pricing and availability of our assets. It is difficult to quantify the impact, as there are many factors at work at the same time which affects the price of our securities and, therefore, our yield and book value. Due to the unpredictability in the markets for our securities in particular and yield generating assets in general, there is no pattern that can be implied with any certainty. We believe the largest risk is that if the government decides to sell significant portions of its portfolio, then we may see meaningful price declines.

U.S. Government Credit Rating

The U.S. debt ceiling and budget deficit concerns in mid-2011 led to the downgrade by Standard & Poor’s of the U.S. government’s credit rating for the first time in history. Assets backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are considered to have the credit of the U.S. government, and thus were also downgraded at that time. While the other rating agencies have not downgraded the U.S. government’s credit rating, if they were to do so it would likely impact the perceived credit risk associated with agency securities and, therefore, decrease the value of the agency securities in our portfolio. The current U.S. debt ceiling and budget deficit concerns have increased the possibility of the rating agencies further downgrading the U.S. government’s credit rating. On October 15, 2013, Fitch Ratings Service placed the U.S. government credit rating on negative watch, warning that a failure by the U.S. government to honor interest or principal payments on U.S. Treasury securities would impact its decision whether to downgrade the U.S. government credit rating. Fitch also stated that the manner and duration of an agreement to raise the debt ceiling and resolve the budget impasse, as well as the perceived risk of such events occurring in the future, would weigh on its ratings. A further downgrade of the U.S. government’s credit rating or the credit ratings of certain European countries would likely create broader financial turmoil and uncertainty, which could have a serious negative impact on the global banking system. This could have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Regulatory Concerns

We believe that we conduct our business in a manner that allows us to avoid being regulated as an investment company under the Investment Company Act pursuant to the exemption provided by Section 3(c)(5)(C) for entities that are primarily engaged in the business of purchasing or otherwise acquiring “mortgages and other liens on and interests in real estate.” On August 31, 2011, the SEC issued a concept release (No. IC-29778; File No. SW7-34-11, Companies Engaged in the Business of Acquiring Mortgages and Mortgage-Related Instruments) pursuant to which it is reviewing whether certain companies that invest in MBS and rely on the exemption from registration under Section 3(c)(5)(C) of the Investment Company Act (such as us) should continue to be allowed to rely on such exemption from registration. If we fail to continue to qualify for this exemption from registration as an investment company, or the SEC determines that companies that invest in MBS are no longer able to rely on this exemption, our ability to use leverage would be substantially reduced and we would be unable to conduct our business as planned, or we may be required to register as an investment company under the Investment Company Act, either of which could negatively affect the value of shares of our common stock and our ability to make distributions to our shareholders.

Certain programs initiated by the U.S. Government, through the Federal Housing Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), to provide homeowners with assistance in avoiding residential mortgage loan foreclosures are currently in effect. The programs may involve, among other things, the modification of mortgage loans to reduce the principal amount of the loans or the rate of interest payable on the loans, or to extend the payment terms of the loans. While the effect of these programs has not been as extensive as originally expected, the effect of such programs for holders of agency securities could be that such holders would experience changes in the anticipated yields of their agency securities due to (i) increased prepayment rates and (ii) lower interest and principal payments.

On July 21, 2010, President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank Act”) into law. The Dodd-Frank Act is extensive, complicated and comprehensive legislation that impacts practically all aspects of banking, and a significant overhaul of many aspects of the regulation of the financial services industry. Although many provisions remain subject to further rulemaking, the Dodd-Frank Act implements numerous and far-reaching changes that affect financial companies, including our company, and other banks and institutions which are important to our business model. Certain notable rules are, among other things:

•

requiring regulation and oversight of large, systemically important financial institutions by establishing an interagency council on systemic risk and implementation of heightened prudential standards and regulation by the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve for systemically important financial institutions (including nonbank financial companies), as well as the implementation of the FDIC resolution procedures for liquidation of large financial companies to avoid market disruption;

•


applying the same leverage and risk-based capital requirements that apply to insured depository institutions to most bank holding companies, savings and loan holding companies and systemically important nonbank financial companies;

•


limiting the U.S. Federal Reserve’s emergency authority to lend to nondepository institutions to facilities with broad-based eligibility, and authorizing the FDIC to establish an emergency financial stabilization fund for solvent depository institutions and their holding companies, subject to the approval of Congress, the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Federal Reserve;

•


creating regimes for regulation of over-the-counter derivatives and non-admitted property and casualty insurers and reinsurers;

•


implementing regulation of hedge fund and private equity advisers by requiring such advisers to register with the SEC;

•

providing for the implementation of corporate governance provisions for all public companies concerning proxy access and executive compensation; and

•

reforming regulation of credit rating agencies.

Many of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, including certain provisions described above are subject to further study, rulemaking, and the discretion of regulatory bodies. As the hundreds of regulations called for by the Dodd-Frank Act are promulgated, we will continue to evaluate the impact of any such regulations. It is unclear how this legislation may impact the borrowing environment, investing environment for agency securities and interest rate swaps as much of the bill’s implementation has not yet been defined by the regulators.

In addition, in 2010, the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervisors of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the oversight body of the Basel Committee, published its “calibrated” capital standards for major banking institutions (“Basel III”). Under these standards, when fully phased in on January 1, 2019, banking institutions will be required to maintain heightened Tier 1 common equity, Tier 1 capital and total capital ratios, as well as maintaining a “capital conservation buffer.” Beginning with the Tier 1 common equity and Tier 1 capital ratio requirements, Basel III will be phased in incrementally between January 1, 2013 and January 1, 2019. The final package of Basel III reforms were approved by the G20 leaders in November 2010 and were subject to individual adoption by member nations, including the United States by January 1, 2013. As of September 2013, the majority of participating countries had formally adopted most provisions of Basel III, with implementations generally beginning January 1, 2014. It is unclear how the adoption of Basel III will affect our business at this time, however, as capital charges increase for banks we may see an increase in our borrowing costs.

On January 4, 2012, the U.S. Federal Reserve released a report titled “The U.S. Housing Market: Current Conditions and Policy Considerations” to Congress providing a framework for thinking about certain issues and tradeoffs that policy makers might consider. It is unclear how future legislation may impact the housing finance market and the investing environment for agency securities as the method of reform is undecided and has not yet been defined by the regulators.

CONF CALL

Mark S. Collinson - Partner
Thanks, Jessica. Good morning, everyone, and welcome to the Hatteras Third Quarter Earnings Conference Call. With me today, as usual, are the company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Michael Hough; the company's President and Chief Operating Officer, Ben Hough; and the company's Chief Financial Officer, Ken Steele. Also available to answer your questions is the company's Chief Investment Officer, Fred Boos.

Briefly, before I hand over to them, let me remind you all that any forward-looking statements made during today's call are subject to risks and uncertainties, which are discussed at length in our annual and quarterly SEC filings. Actual events and results can differ materially from these forward-looking statements. The content of this conference call also contains time-sensitive information that is accurate only as of today, October 30, 2013, and the company undertakes no obligations to make any revisions to these statements or to update these statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after this conference call.

That's all from me. Here's CEO Michael Hough.

Michael R. Hough - Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Good morning, and welcome to our third quarter call. Thanks for your interest in Hatteras Financial. We will start today with a short summary of the quarter and have our team here to answer your questions. Extremes in the rates market in the third quarter really was the reckoning of quantitative easing and the distortions it caused in the market and is what ultimately happens with everyone on one side of a trade. This was an environment where it was important for us to be willing to make defensive choices to protect and prepare for the unknown. As noted last quarter, our portfolio was not immune to the quick move in basis and rate at quarter end, and the adjustment process for us in third quarter has been to derisk and acclimate to the yield curve. The technical factors created by QE3 were really what we've had to deal with most. What we did last quarter was to systematically adjust the balance sheet to a more stable level and run rate. Once we were comfortable, things had stabilized, we sold asset duration and bought liability duration as needed to get the portfolio where we wanted. We also added some yield back to the portfolio with higher coupon and new issue paper that we thought improved our overall risk and return profile. It's going to be a tough exit for the Fed from quantitative easing, and we expect to see volatility come back at some point to the longer end of the curve. We do believe that some tapering is also priced into both the treasury and MBS market, that now buying what we see is close to 100% of anticipated fixed-rate mortgage production. The 10-year is already 70 basis points higher, and ARMs spreads are 25 to 40 basis points wider than when it was put on the table, so we think that the curve now reflects a meaningful taper, but it's difficult to see how they will do it. The only effective weapon the Fed will have to facilitate their out is their commitment to keep short rates anchored for the foreseeable future, meaning a very steep yield curve in which to invest, something we're already starting to enjoy.

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