The company's earnings were boosted by a "$900 million [loan loss] reserve release due to continued strong credit performance and improved housing market." It would appear from the company's credit numbers that additional significant releases of loan loss reserves are coming.
Wells Fargo reported nonaccrual loans of $16.893 billion, or 2.08% of total loans, as of Sept. 30, improving from 2.23% the previous quarter and 2.44% a year earlier. Meanwhile, the bank's annualized third-quarter ratio of net charge-offs to average loans was just 0.48%. Reserves covered 1.93% of total loans as of Sept. 30.
Heading into third-quarter earnings season, investors' main concern was declining trading revenue and a major drop in mortgage banking revenue, as higher rates have slowed the mortgage refinancing wave.
Wells Fargo's total third-quarter revenue was $20.478 billion, declining from $21.378 billion the previous quarter and $21.213 billion a year earlier. Mortgage banking revenue for the third quarter dropped to $1.608 billion from $2.802 billion in the second quarter and $2.807 billion in the third quarter of 2012.
In addition to a sharp decline in loan origination volume, the mortgage revenue decline reflected a decline in the gain-on-sale margin for loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, brought about by rising long-term interest rates. During Wells Fargo's third-quarter conference call, CFO Tim Sloan said the bank's gain-on-sale margin "declined from the historically high levels we experienced for the past year to 1.42%," in the third quarter from 2.21% in the second quarter.
Wholesale banking revenue declined to $5.871 billion in the third quarter from $6.135 billion in the second quarter and $5.949 billion in the third quarter of 2013. The sequential decline in wholesale banking revenue reflected "sales and trading and investment banking results as well as seasonally lower crop insurance fees," according to the company.