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Could The Western Asset Mortgage Capital Corporation (NYSE:WMC) Ownership Structure Tell Us Something Useful?

Simply Wall St

A look at the shareholders of Western Asset Mortgage Capital Corporation (NYSE:WMC) can tell us which group is most powerful. Institutions often own shares in more established companies, while it's not unusual to see insiders own a fair bit of smaller companies. Companies that used to be publicly owned tend to have lower insider ownership.

With a market capitalization of US$541m, Western Asset Mortgage Capital is a small cap stock, so it might not be well known by many institutional investors. Taking a look at our data on the ownership groups (below), it's seems that institutions own shares in the company. We can zoom in on the different ownership groups, to learn more about WMC.

See our latest analysis for Western Asset Mortgage Capital

NYSE:WMC Ownership Summary, August 2nd 2019

What Does The Institutional Ownership Tell Us About Western Asset Mortgage Capital?

Institutional investors commonly compare their own returns to the returns of a commonly followed index. So they generally do consider buying larger companies that are included in the relevant benchmark index.

We can see that Western Asset Mortgage Capital does have institutional investors; and they hold 40% of the stock. This can indicate that the company has a certain degree of credibility in the investment community. However, it is best to be wary of relying on the supposed validation that comes with institutional investors. They too, get it wrong sometimes. If multiple institutions change their view on a stock at the same time, you could see the share price drop fast. It's therefore worth looking at Western Asset Mortgage Capital's earnings history, below. Of course, the future is what really matters.

NYSE:WMC Income Statement, August 2nd 2019

Our data indicates that hedge funds own 5.8% of Western Asset Mortgage Capital. That's interesting, because hedge funds can be quite active and activist. Many look for medium term catalysts that will drive the share price higher. While there is some analyst coverage, the company is probably not widely covered. So it could gain more attention, down the track.

Insider Ownership Of Western Asset Mortgage Capital

While the precise definition of an insider can be subjective, almost everyone considers board members to be insiders. Company management run the business, but the CEO will answer to the board, even if he or she is a member of it.

Insider ownership is positive when it signals leadership are thinking like the true owners of the company. However, high insider ownership can also give immense power to a small group within the company. This can be negative in some circumstances.

Our data suggests that insiders own under 1% of Western Asset Mortgage Capital Corporation in their own names. It seems the board members have no more than US$2.4m worth of shares in the US$541m company. Many tend to prefer to see a board with bigger shareholdings. A good next step might be to take a look at this free summary of insider buying and selling.

General Public Ownership

The general public, mostly retail investors, hold a substantial 54% stake in WMC, suggesting it is a fairly popular stock. This size of ownership gives retail investors collective power. They can and probably do influence decisions on executive compensation, dividend policies and proposed business acquisitions.

Next Steps:

While it is well worth considering the different groups that own a company, there are other factors that are even more important.

I like to dive deeper into how a company has performed in the past. You can access this interactive graph of past earnings, revenue and cash flow, for free .

But ultimately it is the future, not the past, that will determine how well the owners of this business will do. Therefore we think it advisable to take a look at this free report showing whether analysts are predicting a brighter future.

NB: Figures in this article are calculated using data from the last twelve months, which refer to the 12-month period ending on the last date of the month the financial statement is dated. This may not be consistent with full year annual report figures.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.