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Wells Fargo (WFC) Up 13.7% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Continue?

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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Wells Fargo (WFC - Free Report) . Shares have added about 13.7% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is Wells Fargo due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

Wells Fargo Q2 Earnings Beat on Fee Income Growth

Solid mortgage performance supported Wells Fargo’s second-quarter 2021 earnings of $1.38 per share, which surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 95 cents. Also, the bottom line compares favorably with the prior-year quarter figure of a loss.

Results included the impact of a $1.6-billion decline in allowance for credit losses, backed by an improving economic environment and lower net charge-offs. Also, it includes a $147-million gain on the sale of student loans and a $79-million write-down on related goodwill.

Improved investment advisory and other asset-based fees, aided by higher market valuations as well as lower costs supported the bank. However, reduced net interest income (NII) on lower rates and lower loans affected results.

In the second quarter, net income applicable to common stock came in at $5.7 billion as against the loss of $4.2 billion reported in the prior-year quarter.

The quarter’s total revenues were $20.3 billion, outpacing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $17.7 billion. Further, the top line came in higher than the year-ago quarter’s $18.3 billion.

In addition, quarterly revenue generation at the business segments was a mixed bag on a year-over-year basis. The Consumer Banking and Lending segment’s total quarterly revenues jumped slightly, while Commercial Banking revenues improved 1.3%. Revenues in the Corporate and Investment Banking as well as the Wealth and Investment Management units dipped 7% and slightly, respectively.

Fee Income Leads to Higher Revenues, Costs Fall

Wells Fargo’s NII  in the second quarter came in at $8.8 billion, down 11% year over year due to lower interest rates, loan balances and higher mortgage-backed securities premium amortization. Also, net interest margin shrunk 23 bps to 2.02%.

Non-interest income at Wells Fargo came in at $11.5 billion, up 37% year over year. Higher cards fees, improved results in the affiliated venture capital and private equity businesses and in the mortgage banking business, net gains from equity securities and trading activities, investment advisory and other asset-based fees were partially offset by lower market revenues in Corporate and Investment Banking, and lower deferred compensation plan investment results.

As of Jun 30, 2021, average loans were $854.7 billion, down 2% sequentially. Lower commercial and consumer loans resulted in this fall. Average deposits came in at $1.4 trillion, up 3% from the prior quarter.

Non-interest expense at Wells Fargo was $13.3 billion during the second quarter, down 8% year over year. Lower operating losses, as well as efficiency initiatives to reduce spend on consultants and contractors, lower personnel expenses, supported by lower deferred compensation plan expense and lower salaries expense, were partly muted by higher incentive and revenue-related compensations.

The company’s efficiency ratio of 66% was below the 80% recorded in the year-ago quarter. A fall in efficiency ratio indicates a rise in profitability.

Credit Quality Improves

Wells Fargo’s credit quality metrics were robust during the June-end quarter. Allowance for credit losses, including the allowance for unfunded commitments, totaled $16 billion as of Jun 30, 2021, down 20%, year over year. Non-performing assets decreased 4% to $7.5 billion in the second quarter from the $7.8 billion reported in the year-earlier period.

Net charge-offs were $379 million or 0.18% of average loans in the reported quarter, down 66% from $1.1 billion (0.46%). Provision for credit losses was a net benefit of $1.3 billion as against the provision of $9.5 billion reported in the year-ago quarter.

Healthy Capital Position

Wells Fargo has maintained a sturdy capital position. Its Tier 1 common equity under Basel III (fully phased-in) increased to $143.4 billion from the $133 billion witnessed in the prior-year quarter. The Tier 1 common equity to total risk-weighted assets ratio was estimated at 12.1% under Basel III (fully phased-in) as of Jun 30, 2021, up from 11%.

Book value per share increased to $41.74 from the $38.31 recorded in the comparable period last year.

Return on average assets was 1.25%, up from the prior-year quarter’s negative 0.79%. Return on average equity was 13.6%, comparing favorably with the year-ago quarter’s negative 10.2%.

As of Jun 30, 2021, eligible external total loss absorbing capacity (TLAC) as a percentage of total risk-weighted assets was 25.1% compared with previous-year quarter’s 25.3%.


Capital Deployment Activities

Wells Fargo repurchased 35.3 million shares or $1.6 billion in the second quarter.


Third-Quarter 2021

Mortgage originations are expected to decline in the third quarter, while refinancing volumes might be robust if lower rates continue. Wells Fargo expects retail origination volumes to decline less than the industry on the back of its efforts to improved capability to cater mortgage financing needs.


NII is expected to remain flat or decline 4%, sequentially. The company expects to see modest growth auto, other consumer, credit card and commercial real estate loans.

Expenses are expected to amount to $53 billion (excluding restructuring charges and costs of business exits). Revenue-related compensation might increase to $1 billion.

The company expects to increase its return on tangible common equity to 10% (excluding credit loss reserve releases) in the short term if it is successful in reducing expenses and optimize capital levels closer to its internal target.

Effective income tax rate for 2021 is expected to be 20%.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

It turns out, estimates revision have trended upward during the past month.

VGM Scores

Currently, Wells Fargo has a poor Growth Score of F, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with a B. However, the stock was allocated a grade of D on the value side, putting it in the bottom 40% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of D. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.


Estimates have been broadly trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Notably, Wells Fargo has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.

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