Fannie and Freddie shares up again

The logos for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Today was a rich day to go trolling through the Securities and Exchange Commission Web site. Just a couple of clicks of the mouse got you this little tidbit: Freddie Mac chairman and CEO Richard Syron's total compensation package last year came to almost $20 million. We should probably point out here, the company's shares lost half their value in 2007.

And speaking of shares, there was this: A request from Freddie Mac to sell $5.5 billion worth of stock. Congress is still negotiating a bailout plan for Fannie and Freddie. The companies insist they've got enough capital to cover their debts. And they're trying to avoid relying on a government handout. Our Washington Bureau Chief, John Dimsdale, reports.


John Dimsdale The day started with headlines that Freddie wants to sell as much as $10 billion in new shares to head off a government rescue. Freddie's actual filing was for a little over half that. Freddie -- and Fannie's -- stock price rose for a third straight day, which shows investors still like what they see, says Walter O'Haire, a stock analyst with the financial research firm Celent.

Walter O'Haire: Once the market accepts that things are turning around, those who've taken the risk early on are rewarded.

But, with a possible government takeover looming, Hans Stoll, with Vanderbilt's Financial Markets Research Center, says Fannie and Freddie's shareholders are taking an extra gamble.

Hans Stoll: But if it comes to the situation where Freddie Mac goes under, I don't think the existing shareholders should be bailed out. Which is a risk to existing shareholders or the one who would participate in this new issue.

But investors have one thing in their favor. The SEC Monday will limit the short-selling of Fannie and Freddie, reducing the number of bets that the stock price will fall.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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