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LPS > SEC Filings for LPS > Form 10-Q on 26-Apr-2013All Recent SEC Filings

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Quarterly Report

Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

The following discussion should be read in conjunction with Item 1: Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements (Unaudited) and the notes thereto included elsewhere in this report. The discussion below contains forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Those forward-looking statements include all statements that are not historical facts, including statements about our beliefs and expectations. Forward-looking statements are based on management's beliefs, as well as assumptions made by and information currently available to management. Because such statements are based on expectations as to future economic performance and are not statements of historical fact, actual results may differ materially from those projected. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. The risks and uncertainties to which forward-looking statements are subject include, but are not limited to: our ability to adapt our services to changes in technology or the marketplace; the impact of adverse changes in the level of real estate activity (including, among others, loan originations and foreclosures) on demand for certain of our services; our ability to maintain and grow our relationships with our customers; the effects of our substantial leverage on our ability to make acquisitions and invest in our business; the level of scrutiny being placed on participants in the mortgage industry and the foreclosure process in particular; risks associated with federal and state enforcement proceedings, inquiries and examinations currently underway or that may be commenced in the future with respect to our default services operations, and with civil litigation related to these matters; the impact of continued delays in the foreclosure process on the timing and collectability of our fees for certain services; changes to the laws, rules and regulations that regulate our businesses as a result of the current economic and financial environment; changes in general economic, business and political conditions, including changes in the financial markets; the impact of any potential defects, development delays, installation difficulties or system failures on our business and reputation; risks associated with protecting information security and privacy; and other risks and uncertainties detailed in the "Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information," "Risk Factors" and other sections of the Company's Form 10-K, this Form 10-Q and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

We are a provider of integrated technology, data and services to the mortgage lending industry, with a market leading position in mortgage processing in the United States (the "U.S."). We deliver comprehensive technology solutions and services, as well as data and analytics, to many of the top U.S. mortgage originators and servicers, as well as a number of other financial institutions, investors, and other real estate professionals. We offer an end-to-end suite of solutions that provide the technology and data needed to support mortgage lending and servicing operations, meet regulatory and compliance requirements and mitigate risk.
These integrated solutions support origination, servicing, portfolio retention and default servicing. Our technology solutions include MSP, a leading mortgage processing software in the U.S. Our technology solutions also include our Desktop system, which is a middleware enterprise workflow management application designed to streamline and automate business processes, as well as our data and analytics solutions, which provide proprietary data for the mortgage, real estate and capital markets industries. Our transaction services include our origination services, which support many aspects of the closing of mortgage loan transactions by national lenders and loan servicers, and our default services, which are used by mortgage lenders, servicers and other real estate professionals to reduce the expense of managing defaulted loans.

Our Technology, Data and Analytics segment principally includes:

Servicing Technology. Our mortgage servicing technology, which we conduct using our mortgage servicing platform and our team of experienced support personnel;

Default Technology. Our Desktop application, a web-based workflow information system that assists our customers in managing business processes, which is primarily used in connection with mortgage loan default management;

Origination Technology. Our mortgage origination technology and our collaborative electronic vendor network, which provides connectivity among mortgage industry participants; and

Data and Analytics. Our data and analytics businesses, in which we provide automated valuation products and aggregated property, loan and tax status data services.

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Our Transaction Services segment offers a range of services used mainly in the production of a mortgage loan, which we refer to as origination services, and in the management of mortgage loans that go into default, which we refer to as default services.

Our origination services include:

settlement and title agency services, in which we act as an agent for title insurers or as an underwriter, and closing services, in which we assist in the closing of real estate transactions;

appraisal services, which consist of traditional property appraisals provided through our appraisal management company; and

flood zone determination services, which assists lenders in determining whether a property is in a federally designated flood zone.

Our default services include, among others:

foreclosure administrative services, including administrative services and support provided to independent attorneys and trustees, mandatory title searches, posting and publishing, and other services;

property inspection and preservation services designed to preserve the value of properties securing defaulted loans;

default title and settlement services, which include a variety of services relating to the lender's ownership and eventual sale of REO properties; and

alternative property valuation services, which provide a range of default related valuation services supporting the foreclosure process.

General and administrative expenses that are not included in our operating segments are included in Corporate and Other.

Recent Trends and Developments

Our various businesses are impacted differently by the health of the real estate market, which is primarily affected by real estate prices, the availability of funds for mortgage loans, mortgage interest rates and the overall state of the U.S. economy. For instance, our origination services and some of our data businesses are directly affected by the volume of mortgage originations, and refinancing transactions in particular. In contrast, a weaker economy typically tends to increase the volume of consumer mortgage defaults, which can favorably affect the revenues from our default services operations in which we service residential mortgage loans in default, as well as from our Desktop solution. Unlike those market driven businesses, our mortgage processing business earns revenues based on the total number of mortgage loans it processes, which tends to stay more constant. However, in the event that a difficult economy or other factors lead to a decline in levels of home ownership and a reduction in the number of mortgage loans outstanding and we are not able to counter the impact of those events with increased market share or higher fees, our mortgage processing revenues could be adversely affected.
Due to the centralized nature of our origination services' title insurance and closing operations, our origination services are typically utilized in connection with refinancing transactions. The Mortgage Bankers Association ("MBA") estimates that the level of U.S. mortgage originations, by dollar volume, was $1.7 trillion in 2012 with refinancing transactions comprising approximately 70% of the total market. The substantial refinancing activity in the last few years has been driven by a historically low interest rate environment, as well as various governmental programs aimed at providing refinancing opportunities to borrowers who may not otherwise have been able to qualify to refinance their loans. However, in 2013, the MBA projects that mortgage originations will decrease to $1.5 trillion with refinancing volumes representing approximately 60% of total volume, which represents a year-over-year decrease in the aggregate dollar size of the refinancing market of approximately 29%. Actual mortgage origination levels have varied significantly from MBA projections in prior years, and other industry sources project declines in refinancing originations ranging from 2% to 27% in 2013. We believe the decrease in projections for the refinancing market in 2013 is due to, among other things, the potential for rising interest rates, current real estate prices, and tightened loan requirements, such as higher credit score and down payment requirements and additional fees. In addition, while the number of homeowners eligible to refinance their mortgages at the current lower interest rates remains significant, we believe the projected volume declines also take into account the possibility that the large volume of refinances in the last few years may have reduced the number of homeowners who may be interested in or would significantly benefit from refinancing in the future. In the event of an increase in interest rates or any other factor that would likely lead to a decrease in the level of origination transactions, and the level of refinancing transactions in particular, the results of our origination services operations would be adversely affected.

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In order to address the struggling mortgage market of the last several years, several pieces of legislation have been enacted that are aimed at providing refinancing opportunities to homeowners who may not otherwise be able to refinance. For example, the Home Affordable Refinance Program (the "HARP") is designed to assist homeowners with an existing mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to refinance their mortgages at the current lower interest rates and obtain other refinancing benefits. In October 2011, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced a series of changes to HARP that made it easier for certain borrowers who owe more than their home is worth and who are current on their mortgage payments to obtain refinancing. Subsequently, in April 2013, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that HARP will be extended to December 31, 2015. The HARP program has increased volume through our centralized origination services since its inception, although its impact has not extended to our appraisal services as loans under the program do not require appraisals. We are uncertain as to what degree the HARP program may affect our results of operations in the future.

In addition to providing refinancing opportunities for underwater borrowers through HARP, the federal government also implemented the Home Affordable Modification Program ("HAMP"), a loan modification program targeted at borrowers at risk of foreclosure because their incomes are not sufficient to make their mortgage payments. HAMP has been extended through December 31, 2013, and in 2012 the federal government relaxed certain eligibility requirements for the program and increased the financial incentives for banks to participate in it. Through February 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department estimates that banks had worked through most of the approximately 2.2 million loans currently eligible for HAMP, and offered 2.0 million trial modifications. Of those, approximately 1.2 million became permanent. We believe that HAMP has had an adverse effect on the processing of delinquent loans and therefore has negatively affected the results of operations of our default services operations in which we service residential loans in default, and it may continue to have a negative effect in the future as additional mortgages become eligible under the program. However, the pace of modifications has slowed and we believe HAMP will have a lessened impact going forward.

Notwithstanding the effects of existing government programs, the inventory of delinquent mortgage loans and loans in foreclosure remains significant. We believe this is due to a prolonged period of elevated delinquency rates coupled with a significant slowdown in the processing of defaults and foreclosures over the last several years. While the slowdown is due in part to lenders trying to make modifications under HAMP, the processing of mortgage defaults and foreclosures has been significantly impacted by lenders focusing their resources on trying to confirm the compliance of their foreclosure procedures with applicable laws in the face of intense legal and regulatory scrutiny. For example, the processing of defaults and foreclosures slowed significantly while federal banking regulatory agencies conducted reviews during late 2010 and early 2011 of those processes, which resulted in the 14 largest banks and certain of their third party service providers, including us, entering into consent orders with those banking agencies in April 2011, and slowed further in 2011 and 2012 as the banks and their third party providers tried to work through the consent orders' requirements. In January 2013, ten of those banks entered into an $8.5 billion settlement with banking regulators to conclude their independent foreclosure reviews under the consent orders. State attorneys general have also focused on foreclosure practices, and in February 2012, five of the largest banks entered into a $25 billion settlement related to federal and state investigations into their foreclosure practices. We have also entered into settlement agreements with 49 states and the District of Columbia relating to certain practices within our default operations.
We cannot predict whether these settlements may result in more normalized foreclosure timelines in the future. Moreover, we cannot predict whether any additional legislative or regulatory changes will be implemented as a result of the findings of the banking agencies or whether the U.S. federal government may take additional action to address the current housing market and economic uncertainty. Some states have enacted or are considering adopting legislation, such as the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, that places additional responsibilities and restrictions on servicers with respect to the foreclosure process. Any such actions could further extend foreclosure timelines. Moreover, as the processing of foreclosures in accordance with applicable law becomes more onerous, many lenders are addressing loans in default through other means, such as short sales, in order to avoid the risks and liability now associated with the foreclosure process. If foreclosure timelines continue to be extended and delinquent loans are ultimately addressed through other processes, the results of our default operations will be adversely affected.
The slowdown in the processing of foreclosures has also adversely impacted a number of service providers in the default industry. For example, the foreclosure trustees that manage the foreclosure process for the servicers in many states are experiencing significant delays in the timing of receiving payments for their services. In many cases, these foreclosure trustees use our services, particularly our default title and our posting and publishing services. The fees for our services are passed through to the servicers, and we do not receive payment for these services until after the trustees are paid by the servicers, which often does not occur until the foreclosure process has been completed or the loan in default has otherwise been addressed. As foreclosure timelines continue to extend for longer periods, we have become uncertain of the trustees' ultimate ability to pay these fees and have increased our allowance for doubtful accounts. Continued delays in the foreclosure process and the timing of payments for these services could result in additional increases to our allowance for doubtful accounts or in the accounts becoming uncollectable.

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The current environment has also led to an increased legislative and regulatory focus on consumer protection practices. As a result, federal and state governments have enacted various new laws, rules and regulations. One example of such legislation is the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the "Dodd-Frank Act"), which was signed into law in July 2010. The Dodd-Frank Act contains broad changes for many sectors of the financial services and lending industries. Among other things, the Dodd-Frank Act includes requirements for appraisals and appraisal management companies, including a requirement that appraisal fees be "customary and reasonable." The Dodd-Frank Act also called for the establishment of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (the "CFPB"), a new federal regulatory agency responsible for regulating consumer protection within the U.S. It is difficult to predict the form that new rules or regulations implemented by the CFPB or other regulations implemented under other requirements of the Dodd-Frank Act may take, what additional legislative or regulatory changes may be approved in the future, or whether those changes may require us to change our business practices, incur increased costs of compliance or adversely affect our results of operations.

Critical Accounting Policies

There have been no changes to our critical accounting policies since our Annual Report on Form 10-K was filed on February 25, 2013.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

In February 2013, the FASB issued ASU No. 2013-02, Reporting Amounts Reclassified out of Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Topic 220), which adds new disclosure requirements for items reclassified out of accumulated other comprehensive income (AOCI). The ASU requires an entity to disaggregate the total change of each component of other comprehensive earnings (OCE) and separately present reclassification adjustments and current period OCE. Under the ASU, both before-tax and net-of-tax presentations of the information are acceptable, as long as an entity presents the income tax benefit or expense attributed to each component of OCE in either the financial statement or the notes to the financial statements. The standard is effective for annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2012 and interim periods within those years. We have adopted ASU No. 2013-02 on January 1, 2013, and have presented the required changes discussed above in our condensed consolidated statements of comprehensive earnings, included as part of Item 1 herein.

In July 2012, the FASB issued an amended standard, ASU No. 2012-02, Intangibles
- Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): Testing Indefinite-Lived Intangible Assets for Impairment, to simplify how entities test indefinite-lived intangible assets for impairment, which improves consistency in impairment testing requirements among long-lived asset categories. The amended standard permits an assessment of qualitative factors to determine whether it is more likely than not (more than 50%) that the fair value of an indefinite-lived intangible asset is less than its carrying value. For assets in which this assessment concludes it is more likely than not that the fair value is more than its carrying value, the standard eliminates the requirement to perform quantitative impairment testing. The amended standard is effective for annual and interim impairment tests performed for fiscal years beginning after September 15, 2012, and early adoption is permitted. We have adopted the amended standard on January 1, 2013, and we do not expect it to have an impact on the Company's consolidated financial position or results of operations.

Related Party Transactions

The Company did not have any related party transactions as of and during the three months ended March 31, 2013 and March 31, 2012.

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Results of Operations for the three months ended March 31, 2013 and 2012

The following tables reflect certain amounts included in operating income and net earnings in our condensed consolidated statements of earnings, the relative percentage of those amounts to total revenues, and the change in those amounts from the comparable prior year period.

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