7. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo (WFC) seems to be a real hedgie favorite, with everyone from John Paulson to David Tepper and George Soros adding to their exposure to the bank. The stock has been a long-time favorite of legendary investor Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway duly bought more of the stock during the quarter, even as it exited Bank of America (BAC).
The bank earned $3.4 billion, or 61 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, up from $2.8 billion, or 8 cents a share, in the year-earlier period, matching analysts' forecasts. For the year, Wells Fargo reported net income of $12.36 billion in 2010, compared with $12.28 billion in 2009.Wells Fargo is expanding beyond traditional lending as it looks for opportunities to grow and has been recently getting aggressive in insurance. In January, the bank announced small deals to buy two employee-benefits insurance brokerage firms in Ohio and Kansas, called Prestige Professional Plans an JFK Consulting Group, respectively. During the bank's fourth-quarter conference call, CEO John Stumpf reiterated the firm's commitment to building out its insurance-distribution franchise. Wells has also been in the news lately after its CFO and face of the company Howard Atkins unexpectedly resigned, raising eyebrows in the analyst community. Although the bank has said that the resignation was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with the financial conditions of the company, the news has generated its fair share of controversy, with investors worried about the impact of the transition on the bank. 16 out of 26 analysts rate the stock a buy, 7 have a hold rating, while 3 advise selling the stock.
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