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Analyst Blog

Shares of Wells Fargo & Company (WFC - Analyst Report) reached a new 52-week high of $50.82 on Mar 30. However, the stock closed the trading session at $50.78, reflecting a solid return of 28.8% in a year’s time. The trading volume for the session was nearly 15.4 million shares.

Despite the strong price appreciation, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has plenty of upside left, given the positive estimate revisions witnessed over the past 60 days. Further, the long-term earnings per share growth rate is presently 11.1% for this major regional bank.

Growth Drivers

The stock price was primarily driven by strong first-quarter 2014 earnings. A healthy capital position, improvement in credit quality and disciplined expense management were the other notable positives in the quarter.

Wells Fargo came out with first-quarter 2014 earnings of $1.05 per share on Apr 11, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 8.3%. The reported figure was also above the prior-year quarter figure of $1.00.

Results were aided by lower operating expenses and fall in provision for credit losses, partially offset by a decline in the top line. Further, the quarter witnessed an increase in average loans and core deposits, indicating scope for organic growth. Also, capital and profitability ratios improved.

Estimate Revisions Show Potency

Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2014 has climbed 2.2% to $4.13 per share. For 2015, the estimate moved up around 1.2% to $4.33 per share over the same time frame.

Some better-ranked bank stocks include S&T Bancorp Inc. (STBA - Snapshot Report), Midsouth Bancorp Inc. (MSL - Snapshot Report) and Univest Corporation of Pennsylvania (UVSP). All these stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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