NEW YORK (
) -- Saying the stock's valuation was "too attractive to ignore," FBR analyst Paul Miller on Tuesday upgraded his rating for
(WFC - Get Report)
to "Outperform" with a price target of $31.00.
Miller's target would be a 35% gain from Monday's closing price of $22.93. Wells Fargo's shares declined 9% on Monday, following last week's 9% decline.
Bank of America
(BAC - Get Report)
led the largest U.S. banking names down,
as its shares dropped 20%
to close at $6.51. Miller continues to rate the nation's largest bank holding company "Outperform" with a price target of $12.00.
The analyst said that Wells Fargo was replacing
PNC Financial Services
(PNC - Get Report)
among his firm's "top picks" in the banking space, although PNC continues to be rated "Outperform" by FBR, with a $70 price target.
Miller said the Wells Fargo upgrade "presumes that bank investors will flock to quality names that can best weather the adverse effect of a flattening yield curve," and that "the company's strong deposit franchise, diverse business lines, and solid mortgage origination platform position it well to sustain a healthy" net interest margin, with "77% of its funding base coming from core Deposits."
A bank's net interest margin is the spread between a bank's average yield on loans and investments and its average cost for deposits and wholesale borrowings.
The analyst also touted Wells Fargo's "decline in non-interest operating expenses, coupled with lower net interest income, [which] offset lower mortgage banking income." Factoring in "historically low mortgage interest rates and [a] seasonally strong third quarter," Miller expects the company to "show some strength this quarter compared to the first two quarters of this year."
Wells Fargo's shares are at a low forward P/E of seven times Miller's 2012 earnings estimate of $3.25 a share.
Miller also rates JPMorgan Chase
(JPM - Get Report)
"Outperform," with a price target of $56.00, which would be a 64% gain from Monday's closing price of $34.06. JPMorgan saw its shares drop 9% Monday, after last week's 7% decline.
Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla.
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