* Earnings per share 92 cents vs estimate 88 cents
* Revenue $21.3 bln vs estimate $21.6 bln
* Mortgage business slows for second straight quarter
* Net interest margins continue to decline
* Shares down in afternoon trading
(Adds CFO, CEO and analyst comments, updates stock)
By Rick Rothacker and Jochelle Mendonca
April 12 Wells Fargo & Co reported a
higher-than-expected 23 percent rise in first-quarter profit on
Friday, but its mortgage business showed further signs of
slowing and net interest margins continued to shrink.
The fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets has emerged from the
financial crisis as the leading U.S. home lender as other banks
have pulled back from a business that burned them during the
housing bust. But the bank has now seen a decline in home loans
for two consecutive quarters as fewer borrowers refinance at low
"It's going from great to good," said Sandler O'Neill
analyst Scott Siefers. "This is a business that is simply
tailing off, and it's going to be very challenging to sustain."
Wells made $109 billion in home loans during the quarter,
down from $129 billion in the same quarter a year ago and less
than the $125 billion in loans extended in the fourth quarter.
Fees from mortgages dropped 2 percent to $2.8 billion from
a year earlier and were down 9 percent from the fourth quarter.
The bank's pipeline of applications for home loans that have
not yet closed was $74 billion at the end of the first quarter,
down from $81 billion at the end of the fourth quarter.
"Our guess is that mortgage origination levels and revenues
will continue to come down," Chief Financial Officer Tim Sloan
said in an interview.
He said the bank was seeing an increase in loans taken out
by customers buying homes, which will help offset a decline in
refinancings. Refinancings accounted for 65 percent of mortgage
applications in the first quarter, down from 76 percent a year
Wells' mortgage market share dipped to 27.7 percent at the
end of the fourth quarter from 33.9 percent in the first quarter
of last year, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, an industry
publication. The bank's share could fall to the low- to mid-20
percent range, Sloan said, because the bank is such a dominant
player in mortgage refinancings.
The bank kicked off the bank earnings season on the same day
as JPMorgan Chase & Co. The largest U.S. bank said its
first-quarter earnings rose 33 percent to $6.53 billion, but
most of its major businesses turned in tepid performances.
Unlike Wells Fargo, though, JPMorgan's mortgage originations
rose, by 37 percent from a year earlier and 3 percent from the
With the debate in Washington heating up over too-big-to
fail banks, Wells Fargo Chief Executive John Stumpf took time
during the bank's earnings conference call to lash out against
efforts to further regulate the largest financial institutions.
"We do not need additional legislation aimed at big banks,"
Stumpf said. "Important and significant regulatory changes have
been made since the financial crisis and we need to give
existing regulations a chance to work."
The United States needs banks of all sizes, and large banks
have "unique resources and capabilities" to help fuel economic
growth, he said.
Stumpf was part of a group of bank CEOs who met with
President Barack Obama on Thursday at the White House. The need
to revive the U.S. economy and reform immigration and fiscal
policy was on the agenda set by the White House. [ID:
MARGIN UNDER PRESSURE
Wells Fargo said net income applicable to common
shareholders rose in the quarter to $4.93 billion, or 92 cents
per share, compared with $4.02 billion, or 75 cents per share, a
Analysts, on average, had expected earnings of 88 cents per
share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Excluding preferred dividend payments, the bank's net income
was $5.2 billion, up 22 percent.
The results marked the 13th consecutive quarter in which the
bank's earnings per share have risen from the preceding quarter.
Total revenue fell slightly to $21.3 billion, missing
analysts' average estimate of $21.59 billion.
Wells Fargo held onto $3.4 billion of mortgages that it
could have sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
, giving up $112 million of revenue.
The bank took similar actions last year and had previously
said it would hold onto $2 billion to $3 billion of mortgages
that closed in January.
Total non-interest expenses fell 5 percent from a year
The bank's net interest margin, a closely watched measure of
how much money banks make from their loans, fell to 3.48 percent
from 3.91 percent a year earlier. Banks' margins are shrinking
as older loans with higher interest rates are paid down.
Wells Fargo shares were down 46 cents at $37.05 in afternoon
trading. Investors were likely concerned about the bank's net
interest margin, minimal loan growth and the mortgage business,
said Erik Oja, analyst with S&P Capital IQ.
"The only thing that was really impressive about the quarter
was the expense reduction," he said.
(Reporting by Rick Rothacker in Charlotte, N.C.; Editing by