NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The financial sector had a phenomenal year in 2012 -- so much so that many industry experts have suggested 2013 will be weak by comparison. Too much needs to go right for a repeat performance.Although Wells Fargo's (WFC - Get Report) recent earnings might have been for the fourth quarter of 2012, evidence suggests that it will be carried into Q1 2013 and beyond. It was a remarkable performance that netted its twelfth consecutive quarter of earnings per share growth -- an accomplishment that spans back to the height of the credit crisis.
We'll take that problem all day long. We love growing deposits. It grows relationships, it grows customers and it allows us to grow our fee income over time. The company's underlying results were driven by solid loan growth, improved credit quality and continued success in improving efficiency.This was certainly an impressive showing. Wells Fargo more than made up for a Q3 performance not up to its usual standards. While most banks tend to fall in within the same category and thus appraised on similar standards and metrics, it remains evident that Wells Fargo is striving to be a cut above the rest. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the sector performs. On Wednesday, it will be JP Morgan's (JPM - Get Report) turn to report on its Q4 followed by Citigroup (C - Get Report) on Thursday. From an investment perspective, there will always be a premium placed on banks with above-average growth prospects that still meets certain criteria of safety. Wells Fargo continues to benefit from a business that is unburdened from unfavorable risk while consistently demonstrating solid execution and leverage. The stock is trading at a considerable discount to long-term growth potential. Investors should expect gains of 20% as the stock should reach $40 by its third-quarter report. At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @rsaintvilus This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.