Updated from 12:30 p.m. EDT

Wells Fargo ( WFC) succeeded on Wednesday in convincing some of Wall Street's doubting Thomases that its earnings were as robust as initially reported, but worries persisted that economic headwinds may stifle future results.

Wells reported a first-quarter profit of $2.38 billion, or 56 cents per share, which translated into $3.05 billion when excluding preferred dividends. Its bottom line sailed 19% from the year-ago period when it posted a profit of $2 billion, or 60 cents per share. The earnings per share figure was higher in the earlier period, because there were fewer shares outstanding.

The official results confirmed Wells' pre-announcement on April 9, which sent its shares up more than 31% that day. Wells was up much of Wednesday, but closed down 3.4% to $18.18 amid broad declines in bank shares following Morgan Stanley's ( MS) weak report.

In prepared comments, CEO John Stumpf and CFO Howard Atkins sought to allay concerns that results were artificially boosted by mark-ups on Wachovia assets that were heavily written down in the fourth quarter. They also sought to give the impression that strong earnings generation lessened the firm's need for additional capital.

" W e believe a company that is building capital through retained earnings at a high and consistent rate like Wells Fargo is a more strongly capitalized bank than a bank with the same point-in-time capital ratios that is losing money or has volatile earnings," Atkins said.

The ever-scrutinized tangible common equity ratio at Wells climbed to 3.28% from 2.86% at the end of last year. Atkins attributed capital strength to several factors: Wells' "diversified business model" -- an attribute he touted several times -- as well as its strong operating margins; synergies from the Wachovia acquisition; and the fact that a huge portion of risk was wiped from Wells' books last quarter.

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