Shares of Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC), the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, are falling almost 2.5% in Thursday’s early trading session even though the embattled money center bank reported first quarter fiscal 2017 earnings results that beat Wall Street’s profit forecast.
Ahead of the quarter, WFC stock — down 3.6% year-to-date — had been under pressure, falling about 10% over the past month.
Investors are are still assessing the extent to which the plans implemented by new CEO Tim Sloan aimed at restoring the bank’s credibility can work. Wells Fargo stock was further rattled by revelations that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) (NYSE:BRK.B) had begun to sell some shares.
Wells Fargo Stock: The Earnings Report
For the quarter that ended March, the San Francisco-based firm reported a net income of $5.46 billion, or $1.00 per share. Not only did that beat Wall Street estimates of 97 cents, it was a penny better than a year ago. Notably, this quarter marks the bank’s sixth straight period of profit declines as litigation costs stemming from the bogus accounts that caused longtime CEO John Stumpf to resign last October continue to weigh.
Nevertheless, 0.6% drop in profit was one of the smallest declines during the streak. What’s more, Wells Fargo’s provision expense of $605 million, which declined $481 million, or 44% year-over-year, shows improved credit quality. Combined with an $81 million decline in net charge-offs, reaching $805 million, these suggest that WFC stock could be rounding the corner from the scandal.
“Wells Fargo continued to make meaningful progress in the first quarter in rebuilding trust with customers and other important stakeholders, while producing solid financial results” said new CEO Tim Sloan in a statement. “We have taken significant actions throughout the company to date and we are committed to building a better bank as we move Wells Fargo forward.”
So why is Wells Fargo stock declining? First-quarter revenue came to $23.93 billion, compared to $22.2 billion a year ago, but the nation’s largest mortgage lender posted adjusted revenue was $22 billion, which missed Street forecasts of $22.31 billion. WFC stock is suffering from a 38% sequential decline in residential mortgage loan originations, reaching $44 billion, compared to $72 billion in the fourth quarter.
Bottom Line for WFC Stock
The fact that total average Q1 loans were $963.6 billion, down $502 million from the fourth quarter suggests the bank still has tons of work to do to get its customers back. But there is evidence that progress is being made with Wells Fargo stock. And with the shares trading at around $52 and still priced attractively at just 12 times fiscal 2017 estimates of $4.21 per share, WFC stock remains attractive on the back of higher interest rates.
As of this writing, Richard Saintvilus did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.