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Wells Fargo Earnings Report Shows Positive Housing Market Activity

Stocks in this article: WFC

Updated from 9:20 a.m. with analyst comments and the current share price.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wells Fargo's (WFC) earnings report this morning beat estimates but ended their 17-quarter streak of earnings growth. Although the earnings did not make that big of an impact on the stock price this morning, the report gives positive insight into the housing market and the U.S. economy.

Residential mortgage originations of $47 billion were up $11 billion from $36 billion during the first quarter in 2014, applications for new mortgages increased to $72 billion from $60 billion in the prior quarter, and the applications pipeline rose as well to $30 billion, up from $27 billion on March 31, 2014. Auto originations of $7.8 billion were up 9% from the prior year.

Most of those figures beat analyst estimates and give a clean picture of consistent activity in the housing market. Tough comparables from last year when interest rates bottomed means new lending fell at the bank year over year, but, overall this appears to be Wells Fargo's best quarter for housing activity in about a year.

In particular, new mortgage applications are down from the same time last year, the decline in refinancing shows that a higher percentage of people are looking to buy new homes rather than refinancing their existing mortgages.

Wells Fargo's first mortgage applications for the quarter was $72 billion, higher than last quarter, but a significant drop year over year. Last year, Wells Fargo reported new mortgage applications of $146 billion, but at that time 54% of those applications were refinances of existing mortgages. Only 36% of the $72 billion of the first mortgage applications are refinances.

With Wells Fargo trading slightly lower today, analysts at Bank of America "suggest that long-term investors take advantage of any weakness." Bank of America maintained their Buy rating on Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo reported earnings of $1.01, beating estimates of $. Net interest margins at 3.15% were below both last year's second quarter net interest margin and this year's estimate of 3.2%.

"Our results also reflected strong credit quality driven by an improved economy, especially the housing market, and our continued risk discipline," chairman and CEO John Stumpf said in the report.

Wells Fargo also increased it's quarterly stock dividend to 35 cents per share, up from 30 cents a year ago.

In late afternoon trading Friday, Wells Fargo shares were down 0.5% at $51.56.

-- Written by Whalen MacHale in New York.

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