Will a Housing Crash Cause Genworth MI Canada to Cut its Generous 5.2% Dividend?

On the surface, Genworth MI Canada (TSX:MIC) looks like the kind of stock value investors dream about.

First, the company operates in a regulated market. It only has one competitor in the mortgage default insurance space, which is a part of the federal government. The feds set the prices. All Genworth does is follow their lead. And premiums have gone up in the last few years.

Shares also trade at just 8.4 times earnings and pay a 5.2% dividend. The payout has increased annually since 2009.

There’s just one problem. Many think the Canadian housing market is poised to fall, especially in Toronto and Vancouver. Since these two cities hold much of Canada’s population, Genworth gets hit by a wave of defaults if any serious weakness hits.

Genworth has some $300 billion worth of houses insured. It has a market cap of $3.1 billion. A default rate of 1% could do serious damage.

But there are plenty of reasons to assume things won’t get nearly that bad. Pundits have been calling for a real estate crash for years now. Nothing has happened. And remember, much of this insurance was written years ago when prices were much lower. New mortgage rules also ensure that new borrowers will be on solid footing.

In short, Genworth investors shouldn’t have to worry. Short of an epic U.S.-style real estate collapse, the dividend should continue to be safe.