Before we get started, I would like to remind you that our first 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 that 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 containing our earnings release and quarterly supplement. Information about any non-GAAP financial measures referenced, including a reconciliation of those measures to GAAP measures, can also be found in our SEC filings, in the earnings release and in the quarterly supplement available on our website at wellsfargo.com.I will now turn the call over to our Chairman and CEO, John Stumpf. John G. Stumpf Thank you, Jim, and good morning, everyone, and thanks for joining us. Our outstanding results for the first quarter demonstrate the strength of our franchise and the benefit of our diversified business model. Our ability to meet our customers' financial needs throughout our geographic footprint and broadly diversified businesses is clearly reflected in our results. Let me quickly review some of the highlights of the first quarter. We grew revenue to $21.6 billion, up 6% from a year ago. We generated net income after tax up 13% and EPS up 12% from a year ago. Pretax preprovisioned profits increased 14% from a year ago. We had positive operating leverage and our efficiency -- expense efficiency ratio improved by 250 basis points from a year ago. We grew our retail banking cross-sell ratio to a record 5.98 products per household. Credit quality continued to improve with our charge-off ratio declining to 1.25%, the lowest level since 2007. Our profitability ratios reflect these strong results with our return on assets growing to 1.31%, up 8 basis points from a year ago, the highest it's been in 4 years. Our return on equity increased to 12.14%, up 16 basis points from just a year ago.
We continued to grow capital with our estimated Tier 1 common equity ratio under Basel III increasing to 7.81%. We are extremely pleased that during the first quarter, we were able to reward our shareholders by increasing our dividend for the second consecutive year with an 83% increase to $0.22 per share, per quarter.Wells Fargo's performance has benefited from our diversified business model and the improvements in the economy. We remain focused on our commitment to do all we can to help customers and the overall economy. We are helping homeowners stay in their homes with over 740,000 active trial or completed mortgage modifications since the beginning of 2009. We've also helped nearly 5.6 million customers secure new low-rate loans for home purchases or refinancing since the beginning of 2009. In the first quarter, we successfully completed integrating the largest and most complex bank merger in our nation's history. It took us 3 years, but we did it the right way, on time and under budget. We believe our strong results this quarter are just the beginning of our ability to capitalize on all of the tremendous growth opportunities ahead of us as we move forward as One Wells Fargo, serving our 70 million customers coast-to-coast. Now Tim, our CFO, will provide more details on our financial results. Timothy J. Sloan Thanks, John, and good morning, everyone. My remarks will follow the presentation included in the first half of the quarterly supplement starting on Page 2, and then John and I will take your questions. As John highlighted, we achieved very strong first quarter results with record earnings of $4.2 billion, up 3% from the fourth quarter and up 13% from a year ago. Earnings per share were a record $0.75, up 3% from last quarter and 12% from a year ago. This is our ninth consecutive quarter of EPS growth. That's real consistency.
Our ability to grow our bottom line consistently during a time when the industry has faced many challenges reflects the underlying strength and the benefit of our diversified business model. This quarter was no different. As Slide 3 shows, we have a diversified loan portfolio, balanced spread and fee income and our sources of noninterest income are well diversified.Let me start by highlighting some of the key drivers of our results this quarter, and I'll add more detail later in my remarks. While total loans declined this quarter, our core loan portfolio, which excludes the planned runoff from the liquidating portfolio, was up $1 billion from the fourth quarter. Our securities portfolio grew $7.7 billion as we continued to deploy cash into longer-term investments and benefit from continued strong deposit growth, with deposit balances up $10.2 billion. Now let's turn to the income statement. Revenue grew by $1 billion or 5% from the fourth quarter on strong mortgage results and fee growth throughout our diversified businesses while net interest income was stable. As expected, our expenses remained elevated in this quarter, but we generated positive operating leverage. We expect second quarter expenses to decline by $500 million to $700 million and that our quarterly expenses will continue to decline over the remainder of the year. Now let me cover our results in more detail. As shown on Page 6, period-end loans were down $3.1 billion from the fourth quarter as we continue to reduce the size of our liquidating portfolio. Excluding the runoff of $4.1 billion of liquidating loans, our core loan portfolio grew by $1 billion. Commercial loans grew $299 million as growth in C&I was partially offset by lower commercial real estate and foreign loans. Loan growth benefited from $858 million of loans acquired from Burdale Capital Finance during the quarter. As we head into the second quarter, we have a nice tailwind for increasing loans with the announced acquisition of BNP Paribas' North American energy lending business, which includes approximately $3.9 billion of loans outstanding and is expected to close later this month. Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com