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Wells Fargo(WFC - Get Report) has earned a reputation as the best of the big banks, and for good reason. The banking giant was one of the few major financial institutions that didn't actually
need a TARP injection to stay afloat during the financial crisis thanks to a focus on retail and commercial banking that most peers didn't have, and it's remained one of the most financially-attractive of the gargantuan banks.
Wells sports more than $1 trillion in assets thanks to the purchases it made back in 2008, snapping up beleaguered Wachovia at fire sale prices, and establishing a meaningful presence on the East Cost as a result. Like other banks, Wells has a big headwind in the form of the extremely low interest rates that have prevailed in this environment. As the rates start to perk up again on the heels of an economic recovery, so too should WFC's profitability.
A stellar reputation among consumers and businesses means that Wells Fargo lays claim to some supremely cheap sources of capital -- a big, fat deposit base. That helps to keep WFC's earnings along the lines of the most lucrative regional banks even while rates stay low. While the firm's balance sheet likely contains more than a few scary corners, WFC's financial health is best-in-breed.