In an earnings conference call last week, David Schoenholz, chief financial officer at Household Finance Corp., said the company will beef up its securitization of real estate loans this year, which HFC sees as its largest area of portfolio growth in 2002.

The statement was partially in response to Fitch changing its outlook on HFC and all Household International entities from stable to negative. This followed an expected downgrade of HFC to A from A+, aligning its rating with the parent company, which reflected a policy change at the rating agency. That Fitch placed Household on negative outlook "was a really big surprise," Schoenholz said.

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