Realty Check

Countrywide: Could It Just Go Under And Go Away?


Analysts this morning began raising some red flags over the Bank of America/Countrywide deal, citing deterioration in the mortgage market that could lead BofA to walk away, or at the very least lower its asking price.

Paul Miller of FBR Capital Markets, put the new price at between $0 and $2 per share(how could it be zero???) and set his price target for Countrywide at $2. As the deal stands now, it’s based on $7.25 per share.

Others aren’t quite as bearish, but S&P cut Countrywide's debt to junk status last week, when Bank of America suggested it might not assume outstanding debt issued by Countrywide. That could also be the first step in renegotiating a price.

So it leads me to ask, if the deal falls apart, does Countrywide, the nation’s largest mortgage lender and the name most associated with the subprime mortgage collapse, simply go under and go away? It could, because frankly it doesn’t even own the bulk of its mortgages, so the government wouldn’t find it necessary to bail them out in some way. But then is that fair? I mean Bear got the big bail, why not Countrywide? (Video: Countrywide's price target is lowered to $2 from $7, according to CNBC's David Faber)

And what about the recovery process, which I like to call “search and rescue?” What I mean by that is what about the process of contacting troubled borrowers and helping them to, in some way shape or form, avoid foreclosure? Countrywide has supposedly been using its great power to lead that effort.

I don't know how truly successful they've been, but if the doors close, will troubled borrowers get the same kind of commitment of help from the new servicer that is employed by whoever buys up all of the loans?

Questions?  Comments?