Dear Fellow Shareholders,
2017 was a year of realization for Annaly. We enter 2018 having made significant progress on a number of key goals and initiatives further strengthening Annaly’s market leadership.
Broad Outreach to Shareholders; Responsive Disclosure Enhancements
Throughout the past year, we have continued to expand the shareholder outreach efforts undertaken since I became CEO in 2015. We’ve redoubled our efforts to engage in meaningful dialogue around critical strategic and governance issues with our shareholders. In 2017, these efforts spanned new and existing investors in the U.S., Canada and Europe and included our inaugural investor day with over 100 participants in attendance. Across our ownership base, we engaged with shareholders representing over 70% of the Company’s institutional ownership. We concluded 2017 with over 170 new institutional investors and our overall institutional shareholder base has increased over 30% since 2014(1). In response to shareholder feedback, and in line with the Company’s ongoing commitment to improved transparency, we’ve added enhanced disclosure to this proxy statement regarding the operating efficiencies of our diversified model, the parameters and makeup of our manager’s executive pay program and our enhanced corporate governance practices. We look forward to your feedback.
HUMAN CAPITAL & OWNERSHIP CULTURE
Investing in Intellectual Capital with 125+ New Hires since 2014; 100% of Employees Subject to Stock Ownership Guidelines Have Purchased Annaly Shares
Since the initiation of our diversification strategy in 2014, we have hired over 125 professionals including senior members of our diversified investment and management teams. Many of these professionals – and over 40% of the entire firm – have been asked to purchase predetermined amounts of shares based on criteria including seniority, compensation level and role. I’m pleased that as of March 31, 2018, all individuals either met, or within the applicable period are expected to meet, the stock ownership guidelines. Recently, I voluntarily increased my ownership commitment to $15 million of Annaly shares to further instill an ownership culture at the Firm and to emphasize my belief in the Company and its future.
48% More Efficient as a Percentage of Equity; 61% More Efficient than Peers as a Percentage of Assets(2)
While we have made broad and significant investments over the past few years in our investment platforms and financing strategies, we have not asked shareholders to bear the incremental costs for this growth and diversification. We currently operate our multi-strategy model with four distinct investment groups on a highly efficient basis, and our outsized returns are in part attributable to our diversified, scalable model, with an operating expense to equity ratio of 1.68%, 48% lower than the average of our industry peers. As a percentage of assets, this ratio is merely 0.25%, or 61% lower than the average mREIT.
32% TSR, Outperforming Both the S&P 500 and Bloomberg mREIT Index by Nearly 50%(3)
We believe our diversified and scalable model is the predominant reason for our consistent, attractive returns and ability to capitalize on the numerous opportunities we have anticipated. In 2017, we produced a total shareholder return (TSR) of 32%, outperforming both the S&P 500 and the mREIT sector average by nearly 50%. 2017 was the best annual TSR for Annaly in the last decade – a tremendous accomplishment given the rising interest rate environment. Further, since 2014 when we began our diversification strategy, our TSR of 86% far exceeds the 57% return of the S&P 500. In March of 2018, we declared our 18th consecutive quarterly dividend of $0.30.
GOVERNANCE & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Increased Percentage of Women on the Board to 36%; Execution of Long-Term ESG Strategy(4)
Finally, well before ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) became the popular acronym it is today, we were already highly focused on all aspects of corporate governance. We are very proud of the addition of two new highly qualified directors, Vicki Williams and Katie Beirne Fallon, which brings the percentage of women on the Board to 36%. As another illustration of our commitment to a gender equal workplace, in early 2018, Annaly was named as one of only 103 companies to the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index. The Company has also turned its lens on governance inward, refreshing Committee memberships and Chairmanships, and creating a new Public Responsibility Committee to oversee socially dedicated initiatives - including our joint venture with Capital Impact Partners to support community development for underserved areas. While too many other companies have ignored or are forced to play “catch-up” in these critical areas, Annaly has demonstrated our full commitment to being a market leader in corporate governance.
After 20 years as a publicly-traded company, we have proven our longevity and delivered consistent outperformance while transforming Annaly into an industry leading, diversified “Yield Manufacturer”. Our continuous reflection of the past, self-assessment of the present and strategic planning for the future enables us to be opportunistic rather than reactive. It is humbling to remember where Annaly began and to celebrate the ingenuity and dedication it has taken to get Annaly where it is today. Our performance is attributable to our proprietary model and exceptional people. Each business and every strategic move is the product of our long developed plan. Our architecture is designed to capitalize on the numerous opportunities we are uniquely positioned to realize in the years ahead.
I thank our investors for their support and trust, our Board for its guidance and each one of our employees for their deep commitment to Annaly and its shareholders.
Finally, this year we are excited to hold our Annual Shareholder Meeting online for the first time via live webcast. The more interactive online format also enables us to open our Annual Meeting to shareholders from locations around the world. We look forward to speaking to you then.
Chairman, Chief Executive Officer & President
April 10, 2018
Shareholder data per Ipreo based on investor filings as of December 31, 2017.
Represents Annaly’s average operating expense as a percentage of average assets and average equity compared to the Bloomberg mREIT Index (BBREMTG Index) for the year ended December 31, 2017. Analysis includes companies in BBREMTG Index as of December 31, 2017. Operating expense is defined as: (i) for internally-managed peers, the sum of compensation and benefits, general and administrative expenses (“G&A”) and other operating expenses, and (ii) for externally-managed peers and Annaly, the sum of net management fees, compensation and benefits (if any), G&A and other operating expenses.
Represents total shareholder return (“TSR”) for the year ended December 31, 2017.
Board composition as of January 1, 2018.