Fitch: Wells Fargo's 1Q'14 Results Show Solid and Resilient Net Income

Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:32pm EDT

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency) CHICAGO, April 11 (Fitch) Wells Fargo & Company (WFC) has reported another quarter of record earnings, with net income up 5% sequentially in 1Q'14. The results are impressive, according to Fitch Ratings, given the low interest rate environment and still tenuous loan demand. Earnings were supported by lower credit costs, controlled expenses, and higher trading results, partially offset by modest compression in spread income. The 5% sequential improvement in earnings was primarily driven by a one-time tax benefit. Excluding this item, Fitch estimates that adjusted ROA was approximately 143bps during the quarter, as compared to last quarter's ROA of 148bps. Fitch views these results favorably and as consistent with WFC's credit profile, with ratings that remain among the highest in the world. Revenue growth remains challenging for the entire industry, and the revenues for WFC were slightly down on a linked-quarter basis. Lower spread income, reflecting two fewer days in the quarter, was offset by improved noninterest income. The net interest margin (NIM) continued to contract a further 7bps in 1Q'14, reflecting weaker loan yields and a bottoming out of funding costs. Overall noninterest income was up roughly 2% on a linked-quarter basis primarily aided by a 41% increase in net gains on trading activities, debt securities, and equity investments. These revenues combined with investment banking comprised a relatively manageable 8% of total revenues in 1Q'14, the contribution of more volatile capital markets activities that is well below some of WFC's large bank peers. Lower services charges, mortgage revenues, and investment banking revenues partially offset the favorable trading results. Despite the expected and sizeable drop-off in refinancings, mortgage results were once again resilient in 1Q'14. Mortgage originations declined a further 28% in the quarter, roughly in line with peer results; however, total mortgage banking noninterest income fell only 4% from the prior quarter due primarily to higher MSR results, net of hedging. Production income declined 34%, reflecting lower origination volumes. While mortgage banking revenues are down nearly 50% from a year ago, it appears as though the level has stabilized or is close to stabilizing. Expenses were down slightly on a sequential basis. Personnel expenses were higher in 1Q'14 reflecting seasonally higher incentive compensation and employee benefit expenses, which more than offset by lower equipment, professional services, and advertising expenses. WFC reported a smaller reserve release on a sequential basis of $500 million as compared to $600 million last quarter. Net charge-offs (NCOs) reflecting continuing asset quality improvement, declining to just 41bps, well below WFC's historical loss history of around 100bps. WFC expects future reserve releases, absent a significant deterioration in economic conditions. Given relatively weak loan demand (2% on linked-quarter annualized basis), WFC's provisioning needs for loan growth appear relatively low at this point. Estimated Common Equity Tier 1 under Basel III Advanced Approach was solid 10.04% at quarter-end, exceeding the company's internal target of 9%. WFC's received no objection to its capital request under CCAR, which included an anticipated increase in the dividend to $0.35 from $0.30 per quarter and higher anticipated share repurchases in 2014. WFC's previously disclosed total payout ratio target is between 50% and 65% of earnings. Contact: Julie Solar Senior Director +1-312-368-5472 Fitch Ratings, Inc. 70 West Madison Street Chicago, IL 60602 Christopher Wolfe Managing Director +1-212-908-0771 Media Relations: Brian Bertsch, New York, Tel: +1 212-908-0549, Email: brian.bertsch@fitchratings.com. Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.

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