Countrywide Financial Corp. saw its share price plunge Wednesday to a four-year low ($19.25) after a Merrill Lynch analyst told clients that if enough "financial pressure is placed" on the nation's largest lender it may file for bankruptcy protection.At deadline time, Countrywide chairman and chief executive Angelo Mozilo was in meetings and could not be reached for comment. Rumors also began anew that it might be talking to potential suitors, including Bank of America. Meanwhile, sources told MortgageWire that CFC was contemplating exiting the correspondent loan market where it is, by far, the largest player. The Merrill report notes that Countrywide, which owns a depository, has $185 billion in credit facilities available to the company but that the lines of credit can be "terminated or changed meaningfully." Merrill downgraded the stock to "sell" from a "buy." Though Countrywide's shares traded as low as $19.25 on Wednesday, the price recovered to $20.84, down 15% on the day.

Subscribe Now

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry

30-Day Free Trial

Authoritative analysis and perspective for every segment of the mortgage industry