Analysts and portfolio managers have picked the friendliest mortgage-lending company for shareholders.
Countrywide Financial Corp. took the gold in the mortgage finance sector of Institutional Investor magazine's inaugural ranking of America's Most Shareholder-Friendly Companies.
The list included the friendliest companies across 62 industry sectors, reflecting the views more than a thousand portfolio managers and analysts nationwide and abroad, the magazine said. The survey instructed respondents to name the companies in their areas of expertise that are the most attentive to shareholders and to consider the quality of the companies' governance and investor relations practices when voting.
The recognition adds to Countywide's honors. The Calabasas, Calif.-based lender's chief executive, Angelo Mozilo, was previously named by Forbes magazine as the mortgage industry's highest paid CEO. The company was also recognized by FORTUNE magazine as one of the most admired companies and has paraded a ranking of the best three-year investment return providers.
Countrywide topped the annual production of all other lenders in 2005, with volume of $490.9 billion.
The magazine said that investors not only want strong financial performance and solid governance policies, above all, they want companies to be honest with them as more than a few money managers reportedly said CEOs who are accessible and forthright today can avoid locking horns with activist shareholders tomorrow.
The second, most-friendliest mortgage finance company was Golden West Financial Corp. The CEOs of the Oakland, Calif.-based thrift, which reported it originated a record $51.5 billion last year, have also been recognized as fulfilling their roles best.
The bronze medal went to Washington Mutual, reportedly the third largest originator last year with $247.4 billion.
Freddie Mac and Indymac Bancorp tied for the fourth spot in the mortgage finance sector, according to the magazine.
In the large-cap banks sector, the crown went to Wells Fargo & Co. The San Francisco-based lender produced $366 billion in mortgages last year.
The second through fourth places were respectively filled by Wachovia Corp., Bank of America Corp. and U.S. Bancorp.
Amongst mid-cap banks, portfolio managers and analysts voted M&T Bank Corp. as the friendliest to shareholders. North Fork Bancorp, Zions Bancorp and Commerce Bancorp followed in that respective order.
Mortgage-related entities recognized for their shareholder friendliness in the specialty finance industry were American Express Co. in first, followed by Capital One Financial Corp. and three companies took third, including CIT Group, the magazine said.
The list reportedly contained a total of 254 companies.