Wells Fargo Reports Record Earnings

This morning, Well Fargo ($WFC) reported record quarterly earnings of 91 cents per share which was two cents more than Wall Street’s consensus. Profits rose 24% to $5.1 billion.

Wells Fargo, unlike many of its rivals, has been able to steadily increase its revenue. The first bank to release fourth-quarter earnings, Wells Fargo reported $21.95 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

Much of the revenue gains stemmed from the bank’s consumer lending business, as borrowers jumped on record low interest rates to refinance their mortgages. Wells Fargo, which dominates the market as the nation’s largest mortgage lender, notched $125 billion in mortgage originations, up from $120 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011. Refinancing applications accounted for nearly 75 percent of that total.

The big profit in the group came from the extra money that Wells Fargo makes bundling the mortgages into bonds and selling them to the government. In the fourth quarter, the bank reported $2.8 billion of so-called net gains on its mortgages activities, up 51 percent from the previous year.

Under the tenure of its chief executive, John G. Stumpf, Wells Fargo has aggressively expanded into the mortgage market, a strategy that might help the bank surpass its rivals in profits, notably JPMorgan Chase.


Wells Fargo is the reigning titan in the mortgage industry, generating roughly a third of all the mortgages across the United States. Mortgage originations continued to climb, up 4 percent to $125 billion.

Adding to its mortgage-related profit, Wells Fargo reported a $926 million profit from its servicing business, in which the bank collects payments from homeowners. That’s up roughly 6 percent from a year earlier.

Alongside the consumer loan business, Wells Fargo had gains in its wealth management business, a particular focus for the bank to defray the impact of federal regulations that dragged down profits elsewhere.

This was a solid earnings report. Wells is doing many of the right things. I think the bank will raise its dividend at some point, but the Feds need to sign off on that first. The stock is currently down in today’s trading about 1.5%.

Posted by on January 11th, 2013 at 10:47 am

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