i would submit that sfi looks worse right now, but if the liquidity issue gets fixed, it will suddenly look like a much better play than rso. The reason is leverage levels. SFI has built expertise over the last 10 years in earning 15-22% return on equity using almost all first mortgages and a leverage level of around 3 to 1. Very hard to do and appears to be a business model not in the least effected by all that has happened (assuming capital markets return to somewhere near normalcy by 2010) RSO on the other hand, I believe is leveraged at about 8 to 1? It is possible that business model is now dead, and thus the dividend, while looking good now, will gradually die out unless they can figure out how to earn it on less leverage.
I wouldn't say the business model is dead, but definitely on hold for awhile. I kinda ballparked RSO's dividend as decreasing a couple cents per quarter (still an absurd return) to take into account repayments used to reduce debt, eliminating that profit spread. RSO seems to be another hold until things get more rational play, but with significant cash flow in the near term.