The U.S.'s largest mortgage lender and fourth-largest bank recorded net income of $5.6 billion, or $1.05 a share, over the three months to March. Earnings per share gained 14% year over year and surpassed a forecasted 97 cents a share from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
Revenue of $20.6 billion slipped 3.1% year over year but exceeded expectations by around $30 million.
Wells Fargo managed to top analysts' expectations even as it copes with lower refinancing and lending activity. Residential mortgage originations fell 28% year over year to $36 billion, while mortgage applications slipped nearly 8% to $60 billion.
The largest U.S. bank JPMorgan (JPM - Get Report) also pointed to soft mortgage activity as one factor in a tougher-than-expected quarter when it reported earnings earlier Friday. The bank saw income from its mortgage business fall to $114 million, a drop of $559 million from a year earlier.
By market open Friday, shares of Well Fargo were hovering close to $47.68.
-- Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.