Wells Fargo Plans Dividend Hikes, Buybacks (Update 2)

Wells Fargo earnings update with new information from conference call.

  • Wells Fargo (WFC) reported a profit of $4.1 billion, or $0.72 per share, up 21% versus a year ago and 3% versus the second quarter.
  • Revenues were at $19.6 billion, down slightly from last quarter's $20.4 billion.
  • Analysts expected an EPS of 73 cents per share on revenues of $20.24 billion.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet)-- Wells Fargo ( WFC) plans to continue to buy back shares and raise its dividend, management told analysts in a conference call following the bank's release of its third quarter earnings results Monday.

"When you look at the risk profile of the company, we're not global--we don't have a lot of the risks that others do, we're generating lots of internal capital--so you put all that together and that's why I just don't worry about that and I want to get as much back to shareholders as fast as we can and dividends are an important part of that," said Wells Fargo President, Chairman and CEO John Stumpf. Wells currently pays a quarterly dividend of 12 cents per share.

As for buybacks, Wells repurchased 22 million shares of common stock in third quarter, and about 6 million additional shares through a forward repurchase transaction that will settle in fourth quarter.

Still, Wells bought back fewer shares in the third quarter than it did in the previous one, even as the stock fell, prompting a question from one analyst on the topic.

Wells CFO Tim Sloane said buybacks will continue in the fourt quarter, while pointing out that the bank $5.8 billion of trust preferred securities during the quarter on which it was paying a coupon of 8.45%.

Wells earned $4.1 billion in the third quarter, 21% higher than a year ago, though revenues shrank as the bank has been slashing expenses.

Earnings of $0.72 cents per share was a penny below analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Wells earned $3.95 billion, or 70 cents per share last quarter and $3.34 billion or 60 cents per share a year ago. Earnings included an $800 million reserve release and management said it expects reserve releases to continue "absent continued deterioration in the economy."

Revenues of $19.6 billion compared with $20.4 billion in prior quarter. Noninterest expenses shrank by $798 million.

"While certain market-sensitive revenues were down from the second quarter, many of our businesses grew revenue," said Wells CFO Tim Sloan.

In its ability to grow earnings, Wells bested rival JPMorgan Chase ( JPM), which earned only slightly more than last year and less than it had done in the previous quarter. Citigroup ( C) also grew earnings while seeing revenues decline versus both last year and last quarter.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.
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