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Free Bucks, Really!

images991.jpgFBR Group (FBR), perhaps better known as Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, is a pretty tight-knit group of investment bankers and managers. They’ve weathered good times and bad, such as the fallout from the firm’s illegal short sales of dot-com client CompuDyne. FBR rebounded from the scandal, however, and just three-and-a-half years ago, the firm was celebrating the placement of $783 million in common stock of subprime poster child New Century Financial (NEWCQ.PK).

FBR Group has recently fallen upon tough times again, as its subprime mortgage originator First NLC has had to file bankruptcy and bad bets on mortgage loans have caused FBR stock to sink like a stone over the past two years. Never fear, though, remaining management is here!

Despite FBR’s serious underperformance as a diversified REIT and calamitous First NLC investment, FBR’s Board of Directors granted CEO and Chairman Eric Billings a $2.48 million bonus in cash and stock, a 3.5 million share “retention” restricted stock grant, and a $2 million cash “retention” payment. Makes us wonder if there is any way to make a short bet on Billings’ management skills?