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Rocket Companies, Inc. (NYSE:RKT) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Rocket Companies, Inc. (NYSE:RKT) Q3 2023 Earnings Call Transcript November 2, 2023

Operator: Thank you for standing by. My name is Greg, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Rocket Companies, Inc. Third Quarter 2023 Earnings Call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise After the speakers’ remarks, there’ll be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Thank you. I would now like to turn the call over to Sharon Ng, Head of Investor Relations. Sharon, please go ahead.

Sharon Ng: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us for Rocket Companies earnings call covering the third quarter of 2023. With us this afternoon are Rocket Companies CEO, Varun Krishna; our President and COO, Bill Emerson; and our Chief Financial Officer, Brian Brown. Earlier today, we issued our third quarter earnings release which is available on our website at under Investor Info. Also available on our website is an investor presentation. Before I turn things over to Varun, let me quickly go over our disclaimers. On today's call, we provide you with information regarding our third quarter 2023 performance as well as our financial outlook. This conference call includes forward-looking statements.

These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations and the assumptions we mentioned today. We encourage you to consider the risk factors contained in our SEC filings for a detailed discussion of these risks and uncertainties. We undertake no obligation to update these statements as a result of new information or further events, except as required by law. This call is being broadcast online and is accessible on our Investor Relations website. A recording of this call will be posted later today. Our commentary today will also include non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliations between GAAP and non-GAAP metrics for reported results can be found in our earnings release issued earlier today as well as in our filings with the SEC.


And with that, I'll turn things over to Varun Krishna to get us started. Varun?

Varun Krishna: Thanks, Sharon. Good afternoon, and welcome, everybody, to the Rocket Companies earnings call for the third quarter of 2023. It is such an honor to be here with you today, and I'd like to begin by sharing why I chose to join this great company. Rocket is a business I've admired from afar for a long time. And in my view, it's among those on a short list of companies that are working on a truly worthy problem to solve. We are at the heart of helping Americans achieve the dream of home ownership and financial freedom. Now according to a bank rate report, 74% of consumers surveyed ranked homeownership as the number one aspect of their American dream, surpassing aspirations such as retirement or a successful career.

Homeownership represents stability in financial security and it often serves as the single best way for people from all walks of life to create intergenerational wealth for their family. Now I was also drawn to the huge market potential. The more than $5 trillion home buying total addressable market is massive. Maybe take just one part of it, the mortgage market, which itself is sizable at roughly $2 trillion and yet independent of rates and inventory remains highly fragmented. According to Inside Mortgage Finance, through the first nine months of this year, the top 10 mortgage lenders comprised just 38% of the total origination market share. Home buying represents, in some ways, the last frontier. It's a category that is often associated with antiquated, manual processes that remain highly complex, inefficient and time-consuming.

Across the industry, the average time to originate a mortgage is more than 40 days from application to close. For documentation alone, our proprietary platform, which is responsible for extraction, classification and application process 39 million documents over the last 12 months alone. Now, the benefits of digitizing documents and automating discrete tasks at such enormous scale have profound benefits for our business from enhancing productivity, to faster turn times, the higher decisioning accuracy. If you take just underwriting as an example, an underwriting decision requires the gathering and verification of thousands of data fields, which are drawn from disparate sources and formats to populate key categories like income, assets, collateral and property and credit profile.

Now, we've already made significant headway to simplify and digitize the loan origination process. And with our early application of generative AI, we know that our progress will only accelerate based on what we have witnessed firsthand. Now, just imagine what can be done when we apply this transformative technology across our business and throughout the entire home-buying process. Now since starting this role, I had completely immersed myself in the business. I spent countless hours going deep in conversation with our team members with the goal of better understanding our company's culture, our products, and the components of our client experience and where our frontline team members really see the opportunity. Now, on my first day, I invited our team members to share their perspectives and questions with me and they responded enthusiastically.

I've had the chance to read and respond to hundreds of pieces of feedback and the passion and dedication of our team members has absolutely blown me away. I've also had a chance to experience our culture of innovation and putting our clients first. We have a rich history of winning awards, but we never rest on our laurels. We believe excellence can always be improved upon and are obsessed with finding a better way. Every day, we live the mindset of every client, every time, no exceptions and no excuses. This relentless client focus enables us to thrive through the inevitable ups and downs of mortgage cycles. Now, another observation for my first couple of months is just how well positioned we are to lead the transformation of the industry through generative AI.

I believe we are now approaching a critical inflection point in the world when artificial intelligence, knowledge engineering, machine learning, automation, and personalization will change every aspect of our industry and our lives. I believe AI will be at the center of how clients buy, sell and finance homes. We will quickly and efficiently provide the best end-to-end experience across the home buying industry. Now at Rocket, this effort is actually already well underway. Today, thousands of our bankers and underwriters utilize Rocket Logic, which is our proprietary AI-powered next-generation loan origination system. Now, Rocket Logic intelligently generates tasks to seamlessly complete the mortgage origination process, from application all the way through underwrite.

This, along with other tools that Rocket has automated routine and complex tasks, enhance productivity and ultimately drive a superior client experience. In August of this year, we delivered 20% faster purchase turn times, and we reduced manual touches by more than 20% compared to the same time last year. We have a strong foundation in place and a wealth of assets at our fingertips to leverage generative AI. We have data in sales that most fintech companies would be envious of, and we believe no one in the mortgage industry even comes close. For example, we have 10 petabytes of data in our environment, and we have thousands of attributes in our clients that give us an accurate profile of who they are today and how we might help them achieve their dreams of tomorrow.

We generate over 50 million call logs annually, which we use to develop technology and processes to continuously improve upon our client experience. And we've already begun expanding our AI capabilities. In a single year, we used AI to generate approximately 3.7 billion customer interactions and decisions. This is just the start. While Rocket is the established industry leader and a technology Trailblazer, there's still so much opportunity to unlock across our business. From lead generation, allocation to underwriting, closing, servicing, we will harness the power of generative AI and revolutionize the home buying and financing process to help everyone experience home. My career has been shaped by world-class mentors and disruptive technology companies.

A businessperson using a laptop to review the details of a mortgage loan for a client.
A businessperson using a laptop to review the details of a mortgage loan for a client.

I've seen firsthand the power of innovation in AI to transform industries and capture massive opportunities with products that are used by millions of clients. As I look around Rocket, I see a company with the talent, the culture and the assets to drive meaningful disruption and transformation. I am beyond excited for the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead of us. Before turning it over to Brian, I'd like to say a few things on our third quarter results. First, I'm extremely proud of our team members for the work they've done and the commitment they've shown in the midst of what is obviously a challenging market environment. We grew purchase market share and reported strong results for the quarter with adjusted revenue north of $1 billion, which is above the top end of our guidance range, reflective of continued momentum over the past four quarters.

This was a result of strong execution and continued expansion in gain on sale margin. In the third quarter, we turned a corner and achieved positive adjusted net income. And for the second quarter, we achieved positive adjusted EBITDA and GAAP net income. We feel good about these results, but we're even more excited about disrupting the industry as we work to write the next chapter of this great company's story. I look forward to updating you on our progress on our next call. And with that, I'll turn it over to Brian.

Brian Brown: Thank you, Varun, and good afternoon, everyone. On today's call, I'll cover our third quarter operating highlights and financial results as well as our fourth quarter outlook. As Varun mentioned, we are focused on serving our clients through innovation and leveraging our robust data assets in the power of generative AI to deliver seamless personalized experiences. We posted strong results for the quarter, and I'm proud of how well our team members executed to serve our clients in this tough market. For many in this environment, homeownership might feel like it's becoming less and less achievable. Affordability, which hit the historic low in Q3 is a major concern for those looking to buy a home and inventory levels are not cooperating, which is extending the time to buy.

At Rocket, we want to give our clients the confidence they need to transact and help them achieve their dream of homeownership. Our innovative products such as BUY+ One+, which address home affordability and our home equity loan, which helps clients take advantage of equity in their home, continue to resonate. BUY+, our Rocket exclusive collaboration between Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Homes helps clients save thousands of dollars in upfront costs when they work with the Rocket Homes' partner real estate agent and obtained financing with Rocket Mortgage. This product is a great example of the power of the Rocket ecosystem. Since we launched BUY+, we've seen our acumen rate defined as clients who use both Rocket Mortgage and Rocket Homes roughly double.

It's worth noting that this combination is something that only Rocket can offer at scale through our integrated real estate and mortgage experience. One+, our 1% down program increases access to homeownership for low to-moderate income Americans and further broadens our purchase portfolio. One+ has gained significant traction since its launch in May, with closing volume more than tripling from June to September. In a challenging rate environment, our home equity loan product provides a solution for those who may want to tap into their home's equity without impacting the lower rate on their first lien mortgage. In addition, we may have the opportunity to consolidate the clients first and second lien if rates were to move lower. This product has performed well for us and continues to resonate with homeowners.

Home equity volume has more than doubled in Q3 compared to the beginning of this year. As you heard from Varun, we reported strong third quarter results, and I'm pleased to share with you three important milestones. First, we achieved year-over-year growth in adjusted revenue and exceeded the high end of our guidance range. Secondly, we delivered profitability across adjusted EBITDA, GAAP net income and adjusted net income. Finally, we continued to gain purchase market share both year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter. We've accomplished all of this against the backdrop of a challenging macroeconomic environment. Diving deeper into the numbers, we generated adjusted revenue north of $1 billion in the third quarter, above the high end of our guidance range.

Our performance in the quarter was driven by market share gains as well as increases in both direct-to-consumer and partner network gain on sale margins. Net rate lock volume for the quarter was $21 billion, roughly consistent with the $22 billion in the second quarter. Gain on sale margin for the third quarter came in at 276 basis points which was a 9 basis point increase over the second quarter. Turning to expenses. In the third quarter, we continued to execute on our company-wide focus on operational efficiencies. Q3 expenses were roughly $60 million lower than the prior quarter, excluding the $51 million onetime charge. On our last earnings call, we committed to an additional cost savings on an annualized basis in the range of $150 million to $200 million.

I'm pleased to share that we expect to come in at the top end of that range with approximately $200 million of annualized savings. This achievement is a result of a concerted effort that has spanned the winding down of underperforming businesses to a rigorous reprioritization of company initiatives to the implementation of a career transition program. These savings are expected to fully take effect in the fourth quarter. In the third quarter, we generated $73 million of adjusted EBITDA, Thanks in large part to the continued cost reductions we've implemented over the last 18 months, coupled with the outperformance in adjusted revenue. We reported adjusted net income of $7 million, positive adjusted diluted EPS and $0.04 of GAAP diluted EPS. Turning to our balance sheet.

Rocket's financial position continues to be a strategic strength. We consider this to be a major competitive advantage in today's market as it provides us with flexibility and optionality that most of our competitors simply do not have. We ended the third quarter with $3.8 billion of available cash and $6.7 billion of mortgage servicing rights. Together, these assets represent a total of approximately $10.4 billion of value on our balance sheet. Our $3.8 billion of available cash consists of $957 million of cash on the balance sheet and an additional $2.8 billion of corporate cash used to self-fund loan originations. Total liquidity stood at approximately $8.7 billion as of September 30, including available cash plus undrawn line of credit and our undrawn MSR lines.

As of September 30, our mortgage servicing portfolio included more than 2.4 million loan serviced with approximately $506 billion in unpaid principal balance. In the third quarter, we acquired $103 million in mortgage servicing rights, adding $6.2 billion of unpaid principal balance to our servicing portfolio. Our net client retention rate in the third quarter was 97%, which is multiples higher than the industry average. Retention rate serves as a key metric engaging client satisfaction, and is one of the primary indicators of client lifetime value. We also drive considerable recurring revenue from mortgage servicing. During the third quarter, we generated $344 million of cash revenue from our servicing book, which represents approximately $1.4 billion on an annualized basis.

Turning to our outlook for the fourth quarter. We expect industry conditions to remain challenging through the balance of the year. We anticipate adjusted revenue to be in the range of $650 million to $800 million. The guidance takes into consideration difficult market conditions marked by record low affordability and inventory levels, further magnifying the traditional low seasonality in the fourth quarter. The industry typically sees decreased purchase activity and volume in the fourth quarter due to the winter months and fewer working days due to the holiday season. The lower volume also puts pressure on gain on sale margins in the fourth quarter. Excluding the $51 million onetime charge in the third quarter, we expect fourth quarter expenses to be roughly $50 million to $100 million lower than Q3 expenses.

As always, our forward-looking guidance is based on our current outlook and visibility. Looking ahead, we believe our culture of client obsession, wealth of assets and use of generative AI will help us make significant strides in operational efficiency and innovation. As Varun highlighted, we see tremendous opportunity ahead to disrupt the industry and completely reimagine the home buying experience. I look forward to sharing more in the coming quarters we're just getting started. With that, we're ready to turn it back over to the operator for questions.

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