Financial Accounting Blog

Sunday, March 07, 2004 reports that several banks have taken significant charges for impairment of their mortgage-servicing rights. Countrywide Financial Corp profit nearly tripled in 2003 to $2.4 billion on $8.5 billion in revenue.
Key to the profit figure was Countrywide's ability to count future mortgage-servicing income as income today. Countrywide's 2003 earnings release shows $6.1 billion in gains from the sale of loans and securities.

These gains, by and large, do not take the form of cold, hard cash. Instead they represent mostly prospective future profits from servicing mortgage portfolios. Counting future servicing revenue is perfectly legal in the mortgage industry, but it involves a certain amount of guesswork, and sometimes those guesses prove to be too optimistic.