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Can Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC) Win Back Its Credibility?

Wells Fargo has a chance to get back on the market's good side when it reports earnings

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Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE:WFC) is set to report fourth-quarter fiscal 2016 earnings results before the opening bell Friday.

And while the surprise victory by President-elect Donald Trump has made bank stocks great again, sending the SPDR S&P Bank (ETF) (NYSEARCA:KBE) soaring almost 30% in the past three months, Wells Fargo stock has lagged the gains enjoyed by its peers. Will this soon change?

Earning Back Its Reputation

Wells Fargo stock gained just 6% last year, trailing Bank of America Corporation (NYSE:BAC), which posted more than 36% returns. Once considered the “Cleanest shirt in the dirty hamper” amid the financial crisis of 2008, Wells Fargo — driven by the scandal of fake accounts, for which it settled with a fine of $185 million — must go pretty far this year to earn back that reputation. And it must do so with new CEO Tim Sloan after longtime chief John Stumpf resigned last October.

The good new is, on Wall Street, an earnings beat and raised guidance often lend tons of good will and restored credibility. Can Wells Fargo deliver?

For the quarter that ended December, analysts expect the San Francisco-based firm to report earnings per share of $1 on revenue of the $22.45 billion. On a year-over-year basis, this would translate to a 3% decline in EPS, while revenue would rise about 4%.

For the full year, ending December, earnings are projected to decline 2.89% to $4.03 per share, while revenue of $89.12 billion would rise 3.6% year over year.

New Leadership, New Direction

How Wells Fargo guides for the fiscal 2017 will give analysts a hint of how confident the bank is in terms of getting back to earnings growth. What’s more, in the wake of the bank and credit card fraud scandal, Wells Fargo announced changes to how it compensates branch workers.

Reuters noted that Wells Fargo’s new payment plan will reward workers based on their level of customer service, not the amount of accounts they open or sales goals they’ve reached.

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