Will This Upgrade Help Wells Fargo (WFC) Stock Today?

Story updated at 10 a.m. to reflect market activity.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Wells Fargo (WFC) was upgraded to "outperform" from "market perform" by BMO Capital Friday.

Wells Fargo fell 0.2% to $49.24 in morning trading.

The firm set a price target of $55 for the stock. BMO analysts Peter J. Winter, Lana Chan, and Oliver Brassard said Wells Fargo deserves a premium valuation.

"WFC is the bellwether for the banking industry, with near-record profitability measures, an enviable earnings track record driven by very diverse businesses, and less volatility to earnings," the analysts wrote. "We believe WFC possesses a lot of earnings leverage and deserves to trade at a larger premium."

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Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates WELLS FARGO & CO as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate WELLS FARGO & CO (WFC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, expanding profit margins and notable return on equity. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 32.46% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, WFC should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • WELLS FARGO & CO has improved earnings per share by 14.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, WELLS FARGO & CO increased its bottom line by earning $3.89 versus $3.36 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.10 versus $3.89).
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the Commercial Banks industry average, but is less than that of the S&P 500. The net income increased by 14.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $5,171.00 million to $5,893.00 million.
  • The gross profit margin for WELLS FARGO & CO is currently very high, coming in at 93.89%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 27.25% significantly outperformed against the industry average.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Commercial Banks industry and the overall market on the basis of return on equity, WELLS FARGO & CO has outperformed in comparison with the industry average, but has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: WFC Ratings Report

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Editor's Note: Any reference to TheStreet Ratings and its underlying recommendation does not reflect the opinion of TheStreet, Inc. or any of its contributors including Jim Cramer or Stephanie Link.

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