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Bank On JPMorgan and Wells Fargo

Stocks in this article: JPM WFC FAST

But this fact has been a hard sell to a fickle market. Investors were spooked by last quarter's double-digit sequential decline in loan originations. So management has it work cut out. As with JPMorgan, Wells Fargo will report first-quarter earnings Friday, and investors will look for assurances that this is a company they can still bank on.

The Street will be looking for a profit of 97 cents per share, which would represent a 5.4% increase on a year over year basis. Over the past three months, the consensus estimate has risen from 94 cents. For the full year, analysts are projecting earnings of $4.05 per share. So it's encouraging that analysts have grown more optimistic about the bank's performance.

Revenue is expected to drop 8%, however. Analysts expect the number to come in at $20.60 billion. For the year, revenue is expected to come in at $84.28 billion. But through diligent cost-controls, Wells Fargo is expected to make up this shortfall in earnings.

The company has posted increasing profit for three straight quarters. And from my vantage point, given the overall growth struggles in the industry, profits is the only metric investors should bank on in the near term. And there's no other bank that does it better.

Fastenal (FAST): A company I've always wanted to like but just can't. Fastenal sports a strong balance sheet -- one that is also very clean, which leaves management with plenty of growth options at their disposal. Even so, the stock has always been expensive. On Friday, management will have a chance to prove that valuation is deserved.

The Street will be looking for 37 cents in earnings per share on revenue of $870 million, which represents 8% year over year revenue growth. Analysts have grown a bit pessimistic, however. Earnings estimates are down 4 cents over the past 90 days. For the fiscal year, analysts are expecting earnings of $1.67 per share. Full-year revenue is expected to come in at $3.68 billion.

A surprisingly healthy U.S. manufacturing sector has lifted valuations across the entire sector. But it didn't help Fastenal in the most recent quarter. The company posted a 9% profit decline. From an investment perspective, the P/E of 33, which is twice the industry average, has not been rewarded with the earnings investors expect. And I don't believe now is the time to buy the stock.

At the time of publication, the author didn't hold any stock in the companies mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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