CEO John Stumpf and team have already gone far, and the stagecoach is headed even higher. Wells Fargo is topping $220 billion and is only $1.89 from the all-time high of $44.52.
In my earnings preview article "Two Banks Are Reporting Earnings and One Is My Top-Five Dividend Pick For 2013," I advised readers the analyst target price was too low for JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo.
I believed Wells Fargo's price target should be higher to reflect the improving economy, sector performance and the bank's own outstanding performance. The average analyst price target was $41.77 while I wrote $48 was more realistic. Now analysts are moving in my direction.The Street's Philip van Doorn reported analysts raising the price target for both banks as expected. With only two analysts raising their targets so far, the mean target is $42.70 and investors should expect more upgrades to come. Wells Fargo has the goods, and you're going to be hard pressed to find a better one at its scale. It has the nationwide footprint to absorb regional shocks, and more importantly, it was one of the few that didn't require government capital to keep the house of cards standing as some have. Wells Fargo's balance sheet is "Kevlar" strength and enabling the bank to acquire Commerzbank's Hypothekenbank Frankfurt (formerly Eurohypo) U.K. commercial real estate portfolio, according to a statement released today. The deal is worth about $8 billion and includes Wells Fargo financing $1.96 billion to Lone Star Funds for the purchase of Commerzbank's Hypothekenbank Frankfurt non-performing assets. The purchase places Wells Fargo in the heart of London's commercial real estate space and increases the bank's reach across the pond. It's hard to find fault anywhere in the company, and it's far from too late to get on board the stagecoach. With a river of dividends paid and a currently highly attractive rate of 2.8%, this could turn into your lowest-risk, best stock in the next 12 to 24 months. Even during the dark depths of the financial crises, after several financial institutions failed and with rumors running wild of which bank casualty would be next, Wells Fargo continued paying a dividend, albeit reduced.
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