Wells Fargo & CEO Discusses Q4 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

Wells Fargo & (WFC)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

January 19, 2011 9:30 am ET


John Stumpf - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Jim Rowe - Director of Investor Relations

Howard Atkins - Chief Financial Officer, Head of Investor Relations, Head of Treasury, Head of Corporate Development, Head of Investment Portfolio, Head of Corporate Properties, Head of Venture Capital, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Controller's Division


Adam Barkstrom - Sterne Agee & Leach Inc.

David Ho

Ron Mandle - GIC

John McDonald - Bernstein Research

Paul Miller - FBR Capital Markets & Co.

Betsy Graseck - Morgan Stanley

Joe Morford - RBC Capital Markets, LLC

Frederick Cannon - Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods, Inc.

Edward Najarian - ISI Group Inc.

Brian Foran - Goldman Sachs



Good morning. My name is Celeste, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Wells Fargo Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn today's call over to Jim Rowe. Please go ahead, sir.

Jim Rowe

Good morning. Thank you for joining our call today during which our Chairman and CEO, John Stumpf, and CFO, Howard Atkins, will review the fourth quarter 2010 results and answer your questions.

Before we get started, I would like to remind you that our fourth quarter earnings release and quarterly supplement are available on our website. I'd also like to caution you that we may make forward-looking statements during today's call and that those forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from expectations are detailed in our SEC filings, including the Form 8-K filed today and the earnings release and quarterly supplement included as exhibits. In addition, some of the discussion today about the company's performance will include reference to non-GAAP financial measures. Information about those measures, including a reconciliation of those measures to GAAP measures, can be found in our SEC filings and in the earnings release and quarterly supplement available on our website at wellsfargo.com. I will now turn the call over to our Chairman and CEO, John Stumpf.

John Stumpf

Thank you, Jim. Good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining this call. And again, thanks for your interest in Wells Fargo. I'm very pleased with our record results for the year and the fourth quarter, which again demonstrate the power and momentum of our franchise. We continue to focus on meeting the financial needs of our customers, and as a result, we grew revenue, loans, deposits and cross-sell, as well as increased market share across our businesses. We also experienced significant improvement in credit quality in the quarter, continuing the steady improvement we experienced throughout 2010. The Wachovia merger continues to exceed all of our expectations and we are particularly pleased with the positive customer response we have received as we begin integrating the Wachovia stores in our Eastern states. In fact, for the second consecutive year, Wells Fargo ranked number one among large banks in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Our internal metrics indicate greater customer retention and deepening customer relationships even as we completed increasingly complex merger activities.

For example, we've already replaced more than 5,000 Wachovia ATMs, with all of our over 12,000 ATMs now on one operating platform. Simply by offering our customers in the East the same web-enabled, Envelope-Free ATMs we have in the West, ATM deposit transactions in our Eastern markets increased 55%. This is just one example of how we continue to execute our business model while serving our customers when, where and how they want to be served.

Deposit growth remained strong through our company with net checking account growth of 7.5%, including California up 8.2% and Florida, up 10%. Since the merger, we have grown core deposits by $53 billion while favorably changing the composition from higher-cost CDs to lower-cost checking and savings accounts. In fact, listen to this, at the time of the merger, 23% of our core deposits were in CDs compared with less than 10% today. Just this past weekend, we successfully completed the systems integration of our Retail Brokerage business. As a consequence, we now have over 15,000 financial advisors in all 50 states on one common platform, state-of-the-art and very robust trading, planning, and investment platform activities and capabilities.

This further enables cross-seller, cross banking, wealth management and brokerage customers nationwide. Even as we celebrate the outstanding success of the Wachovia merger to date, we continue to focus intently on the remaining work ahead, converting the rest of the East Coast Wachovia banking stores to Wells Fargo throughout 2011.

Turning to the issue of regulatory reform. We have always been supportive of changes designed to better protect and serve consumers, businesses and the financial system. In some cases, however, such as the currently proposed control of debit interchange fees, suggested changes may have unintended consequences for the U.S. consumer, which causes our industry some concern. We believe that lawmakers should engage all constituents, merchants, consumers and banks, and take the necessary time to reach a reasonable and equitable solution. In that way, we can all help make our regulatory and operating framework a positive one for customers, the banking industry and the overall health of the U.S. economy.

As a company with more than 280,000 team members, our focus in this period of a new normal will be, as always, on how we best serve our customers by providing more value. So we are focusing on reducing expenses, be more efficient and nimble, and increasing revenue by winning more customers and deepening existing relationships and thereby limiting the impact of regulatory reform cost on our customers.

Granted, there will be some costs that will be passed along to customers. We've begun to implement some changes and there are more to come. But these decisions will always be made with the customer at the center. As we work through these changes, we will focus on three things: Providing our customers with choices and education about their options; rewarding customers for doing more business with us; and finally, offering meaningful value at fair prices.

With the evolving environment, we are more convinced than ever that our commitment to helping our customers succeed financially will create the best long term value for shareholders. Now let me turn this over to Howard

Howard Atkins

Thank you, John, and good morning, everyone. My remarks will follow the slide presentation, included in the quarterly supplement that's available on the Wells Fargo Investor Relations website. I've got a lot of ground to cover this morning. As shown on the Slide labeled Fourth Quarter Overview, I'd like to organize my remarks around five key areas.

First, our earnings were once again very strong, a record $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter. Perhaps more important was the high quality of our results with broad-based revenue growth across a large number of our 80-plus businesses, and acceleration of checking and savings account deposit growth. Now loan growth in total and in loan portfolios other than the non-strategic portfolio, which we've been running off.

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