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Rating Action:

Moody's announces rating actions on mortgage insurers

31 Jan 2008
Moody's announces rating actions on mortgage insurers

New York, January 31, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service has announced rating actions on a number of mortgage insurance companies due to continued US mortgage market stress and significant uncertainty about the amount of mortgage insurance claims that could emerge over the next several years. The following rating actions have been taken. The Aa2 insurance financial strength (IFS) ratings of the mortgage insurance subsidiaries of The PMI Group and the Aa3 IFS rating of Triad Guaranty Insurance Corporation were placed on review for possible downgrade. The Aa2 IFS ratings of the mortgage insurance subsidiaries of Genworth Financial and the Aa3 IFS rating of Republic Mortgage Insurance Company were affirmed, but the rating outlooks were changed to negative. The Aa2 IFS ratings of the mortgage insurance subsidiaries of United Guaranty Corporation (a wholly-owned subsidiary of American International Group, Inc.) were affirmed with a stable outlook. In the same rating action, Moody's placed the Prime-1 commercial paper rating of MGIC Investment Corp. on review for possible downgrade. The Aa2 IFS ratings on the main mortgage insurance subsidiaries of MGIC Investment Corp and the Aa3 IFS mortgage subsidiary ratings of Radian Group Inc. remain on review for possible downgrade.

These rating actions result from Moody's increased loss expectations for US residential mortgages and the potential adverse impact on mortgage insurer capitalization relative to previous assumptions. Moody's announced on January 30, 2008 that its projection for cumulative losses on 2006 vintage subprime mortgages is now in the 14-18% range and that it will update loss projections for other mortgage types over the next several weeks. While the majority of the mortgage insurers' exposure is to prime fixed-rate conforming mortgage loans, the industry does have material exposure to Alt-A and subprime mortgage loans.

Moody's stated that rating actions for specific mortgage insurers were influenced by Moody's views regarding the volatility in expected performance of the insured portfolio, as well as the existence of implicit and explicit forms of parental support for companies that are wholly-owned subsidiaries of larger diversified insurance holding companies. Moody's will, in the next several weeks, update its evaluation of capital adequacy of mortgage insurers based on updated information and incorporating revised expectations about performance across different loan types. Moody's will consider updated estimates of capital adequacy in the context of potential capital strengthening measures or other strategies that may be under consideration at these companies. Moody's will also be considering the changing risk and opportunities to the mortgage insurers as a result of shifting dynamics in the conforming mortgage market.

The following briefly summarizes the analytical methods that will be used by Moody's and outlines the rating agency's current rating opinion and outlook for each of the rated mortgage insurers.

ANALYTICAL METHODS

To evaluate capital adequacy in light of higher cumulative loss expectations, Moody's uses a stress model that groups insured portfolios by vintage and segment (e.g. prime, Alt-A, subprime) and incorporates various loss assumptions based on loan characteristics. Projections are made of premiums that are expected to be received and losses that are expected to be paid over time across a broad range of stress loss assumptions, discounted to the present value. We consider the impact of reinsurance provided to the companies by mortgage lender captives and other third-party reinsurance arrangements. Capital resources are compared to the present value of projected net losses using a standard benchmark for capital adequacy at a range of rating levels.

For a firm falling below Moody's capital adequacy benchmarks for its rating level, we will consider the implied capital shortfall in the context of a range of likely company responses. In our evaluation of capital strengthening plans, Moody's will consider whether the mortgage insurer's capital plan would ultimately result in the company exceeding the relevant benchmarks and over what time frame. Moody's expects to complete this analysis within the next several weeks, but will communicate any updates to our views as appropriate.

Moody's also notes that the deterioration in the credit profile of the mortgage insurers could result in wider notching between the insurance financial strength rating of the operating company and the senior debt rating of non-diversified holding companies than has historically been the case.

COMPANY RATING ANNOUNCEMENTS

PMI - Aa2 ratings placed on review for possible downgrade

The review for possible downgrade of the Aa2 insurance financial strength ratings of PMI's US and Australian mortgage insurance operations, and the Aa3 insurance financial strength rating of PMI's European mortgage insurance operations reflect Moody's view that increased loss expectations are likely to have a meaningful impact on our estimate of PMI's US mortgage insurance portfolio. Our review will focus on the capital impact of rising losses on the Alt-A segment, which comprises 22.8% of its insured portfolio. PMI's international franchises benefit from capital support provided by PMI US and The PMI Group, and as a result, a downgrade of PMI's US operations would also have negative implications for the ratings of its international subsidiaries.

Triad Guaranty -- Aa3 rating placed on review for possible downgrade

The placement of Triad's rating on review for possible downgrade reflects signs of increasing capital strain at the company. While the company has made strides in recent years in improving its franchise and market position, much of these gains came through the currently depressed bulk and modified pool channels. In Moody's opinion, Triad also faces headwinds due to rapid portfolio growth during the problematic 2006/2007 vintage years, which included significant Alt-A and pay option ARM business volume.

Genworth -- Affirm Aa2 ratings with negative outlook

The affirmation of the Aa2 insurance financial strength ratings of Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation (GEMICO) and supported affiliates, with the rating outlooks changed to negative from stable, considers the group's strong overall financial profile and limited exposure to certain higher risk mortgage products. While we anticipate that losses on recent vintage origination may be substantial, we believe that the impact of such losses will be partially mitigated through excess of loss coverage provided by lender captive reinsurers on approximately 60% of the firm's recent vintage origination. However, the negative outlook incorporates uncertainty about the ultimate performance of GEMICO's US mortgage portfolio and the potential impact on capital adequacy, particularly given the firm's continued financial support of its international affiliates. GEMICO benefits from its affiliation with its parent, Genworth Financial, Inc. (senior debt at A2) group, which derives substantial revenue from its life and international operations.

Republic Mortgage Insurance Company -- Affirm Aa3 rating with negative outlook

The affirmation of RMIC's Aa3 insurance financial strength rating, with the outlook changed to negative from positive, reflects the potential volatility in mortgage loan losses that are expected to emerge in the insured portfolio over the next several years. While RMIC benefits from its ownership by Old Republic International Corporation (senior debt at A1), a well-resourced and insurance-focused parent, the company's capital adequacy position is likely to experience some amount of strain given the fact that incurred losses will frustrate organic capital generation during 2008 and into 2009.

United Guaranty -- Affirm Aa2 rating with stable outlook

The affirmation of the Aa2 ratings for UGRIC and UGRIC of NC reflect the implied and explicit support provided by AIG (Aa2 debt rating) and National Union (Aa2 IFSR). Rising mortgage loss expectations are expected to have negative implications for UGRIC's insured portfolio performance and stand alone capital adequacy. UGRIC of NC's second lien insured portfolio has experienced particularly large losses, placing pressure on the firm's earnings and capital adequacy. However, AIG has continued to demonstrate its commitment to the mortgage insurance platform, recently infusing capital into United Guaranty Corp to boost capital adequacy for UGRIC of NC.

MGIC -- Aa2 ratings remain on review for possible downgrade

The Aa2 insurance financial strength rating of Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC) continues to be under review for possible downgrade. Moody's also placed on review for downgrade the P-1 short-term rating on MGIC Investment Corp's commercial paper program, reflecting the potential for wider holding company notching. While MGIC entered the market downturn in a solid capital position, rising mortgage loss rates are placing pressure on MGIC's capital adequacy. The capacity of the firm to continue to take advantage of higher conforming mortgage volumes will also likely be constrained. These factors are expected to have negative implications for the firm's profitability and ultimately its market position. Furthermore, with an insured portfolio comprised of approximately 28% non-prime risks, the loss emergence patterns for MGIC's insured portfolio remain uncertain.

Radian -- Aa3 ratings remain on review for possible downgrade

The Aa3 insurance financial strength ratings of Radian's mortgage insurance subsidiaries remain on review for possible downgrade. Radian's ratings were placed under review in September, 2007 as a result of the termination of its merger agreement with MGIC, coupled with significant volatility surrounding loss expectations for its net interest margin securitization and second lien portfolios. Since then, Radian has made changes to its management team, refocused on the core mortgage insurance business and increased new business writings. Moody's continuing review will focus on Radian's capital adequacy in light of increased loss expectations, as well as on the company's competitive position and risk culture going forward.

LIST OF RATING ACTIONS

PMI

The following ratings were placed on review for possible downgrade:

• The PMI Group, Inc. -- senior unsecured debt at A1, junior subordinated debt at A2, provisional rating on senior unsecured debt at (P)A1, provisional rating on subordinated debt at (P)A2, and provisional rating on preferred stock at (P) A3;

• PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• PMI Insurance Co. -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• PMI Mortgage Insurance Limited -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• PMI Mortgage Insurance Company Ltd -- insurance financial strength at Aa3;

• PMI Capital I -- preferred stock at A2; and

• PMI Guaranty Co. -- insurance financial strength at Aa3.

The last rating action on PMI occurred on October 23, 2006 when Moody's assigned a Aa3 insurance financial strength rating to PMI Guaranty Co.

TRIAD GUARANTY

The following rating has been placed on review for possible downgrade:

• Triad Guaranty Insurance Corporation -- insurance financial strength at Aa3.

The last rating action on Triad Guaranty Insurance Corporation occurred on March 26, 2001, when Moody's assigned a Aa3 insurance financial strength rating.

GENWORTH

The following ratings were affirmed, with the outlook changed to negative from stable:

• Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• Genworth Residential Mortgage Insurance Corporation of NC -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• Private Residential Mortgage Insurance Corporation -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Ltd (UK) -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• Genworth Financial Mortgage Insurance Pty Limited (Australia) -- insurance financial strength at Aa2; and

The following ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook:

• Genworth Seguros de Credito a la Vivienda S.A. (Mexico) -- insurance financial strength at A2, national scale rating at Aaa.mx

The last rating action on Genworth Mortgage Insurance Corporation occurred on November 27, 2007 when Moody's assigned an A2 insurance financial strength rating to Genworth Seguros de Credito a la Vivienda S.A.

REPUBLIC MORTGAGE INSURANCE COMPANY

The following rating has been affirmed with the outlook changed to negative from positive:

• Republic Mortgage Insurance Company -- insurance financial strength at Aa3.

The last rating action on Republic Mortgage Insurance Company occurred on February 15, 2007, when Moody's affirmed the company's Aa3 insurance financial strength rating with the outlook changed to positive from stable.

UNITED GUARANTY

The following ratings have been affirmed with a stable outlook:

• United Guaranty Residential Insurance Company -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• United Guaranty Mortgage Indemnity Corp -- insurance financial strength at Aa2; and

• United Guaranty Residential Insurance Company of North Carolina -- insurance financial strength at Aa2.

The last rating action on United Guaranty was on May 31, 2005 when Moody's confirmed the Aa2 insurance financial strength rating in conjunction with the confirmation of AIG's Aa2 senior unsecured debt ratings.

MGIC

The following rating was placed on review for possible downgrade:

• MGIC Investment Corporation -- commercial paper program at Prime-1.

The following ratings continue to be under review for possible downgrade:

• MGIC Investment Corporation -- senior unsecured debt at A1, provisional rating on senior unsecured debt at (P)A1;

• Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp -- insurance financial strength at Aa2;

• MGIC Australia Pty Ltd. -- insurance financial strength at Aa2.

The following rating was affirmed with a stable outlook:

• MGIC Indemnity Corporation -- insurance financial strength at A1

The last rating action on Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation occurred on August 1, 2007, when Moody's placed certain ratings under review for possible downgrade.

RADIAN

The following ratings remain under review for possible downgrade:

• Radian Group, Inc. -- senior unsecured debt at A2, provisional rating on senior unsecured debt at (P)A2, provisional rating on subordinated debt at (P)A3 and provisional rating on preferred stock at (P)Baa1;

• Radian Group Capital Trusts I and II -- provisional rating on subordinated debt at A3;

• Radian Guaranty Inc. -- insurance financial strength at Aa3;

• Radian Insurance Inc. -- insurance financial strength at Aa3; and

• Amerin Guaranty Corporation -- insurance financial strength at Aa3.

The last rating action on Radian Guaranty Inc. was on September 5, 2007 when Moody's placed the Aa3 insurance financial strength rating under review for possible downgrade.

New York
Jack Dorer
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Arlene Isaacs-Lowe
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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