Lower Margins on Interest Cool Wells Fargo Shares

bank vault
bank vault

Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) reported fourth-quarter 2012 and full-year results this morning. The bank reported quarterly diluted earnings per share (EPS) that totaled $0.91 on revenue of $21.9 billion. In the same period a year ago, Wells Fargo reported diluted EPS of $0.73 on revenue of $20.6 billion. This morning's results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.89 and $21.3 billion in revenue.

For the full year, the bank reported EPS of $3.36 on revenue of $86.1 billion, compared with 2011 EPS of $2.82 on revenues of $80.9 billion.

The bank's CEO said:

We saw the continued benefits of our diversified business model and reported record full year and fourth quarter earnings, robust deposit and solid loan growth, and strong performance across our business units.

Wells Fargo did not offer any guidance in its announcement, but the consensus estimates for the first quarter of 2013 call for EPS of $0.87 on revenues of $21.2 billion. For the full year, the EPS estimate is $3.35 on revenues of $85.7 billion.

Quarterly results include a $644 million pretax charge to cover the bank's share of the recent $8.5 billion settlement related to foreclosure practices.

The higher profit at the bank was largely due to lower contributions to reserves to cover bad loans and a boost in mortgage fees. Historically low interest rates, however, chopped net interest margin from 3.9% a year ago to 3.6% this year.

Credit losses totaled $9 billion in 2012, down 20% from losses of $11.3 billion in 2011, and nonperforming assets dropped by 6%.

The company's shares are down about 1% in premarket trading this morning, at $35.05 in a 52-week range of $28.77 to $36.60. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $38.90 before today's report.

As we noted yesterday in our look at bank earnings, implied upside on bank stocks is below 10%, which means that results will have to blow past estimates or investors will not be satisfied. Wells Fargo clearly beat estimates, but not by enough to put a jolt into buyers.

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Banking & Finance, Earnings Tagged: WFC