Subprime giant Fremont General Corp., Santa Monica, Calif., says it will delay the release of its fourth-quarter and full-year earnings, sending its share price down 20% on Wednesday.The earnings delay -- and the revelation that it will not file its annual 10-K on time -- comes a few weeks after the wholesaler said it will no longer fund second liens. Over the past few months, it has also trimmed 8,000 brokers from its wholesale network. A federally insured depository, FGC is the parent of Fremont Investment & Loan, the nation's eighth-largest subprime lender, according to the Quarterly Data Report. The QDR, a National Mortgage News publication, reported that Fremont's subprime fundings fell by 38% in the quarter. The production figure, though, is an estimate. (Fremont would not provide origination numbers.) After the announcement, Fitch Ratings downgraded various Fremont ratings, including its long-term issuer default rating (from BB-minus to B-plus) and its long-term senior debt (from B-plus to B). Fitch also placed Fremont General and Fremont Investment & Loan on Rating Watch Negative. FGC's shares were down $2.20 to $9.45 late Wednesday after reaching a new 52-week low earlier in the day. The shares had rebounded slightly as of midday Thursday, when they were up $0.21, or 2.38%.

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