Loan growth stalls despite profit, trading gains at some US banks

After announcing earlier this week that the bank would revoke or clawback compensation worth $180 million for its former CEO John Stumpf and exec Carrie Tolstedt, who was largely blamed for the problems, Wells Fargo revealed Thursday during its first quarter earnings that it had also spent about million this year in relation to the controversy.

Wells Fargo reported first-quarter net income of $5.5 billion, or $1 a share, which exceeded the 96 cents that analysts were projecting.

The comments came after JPMorgan reported a 17 percent rise in profit for its first quarter, driven primarily by more trading.

Net interest income - the amount banks gain from their various loans - rose 5.4 percent to $12.30 billion.

Wells on Thursday reported a profit of $5.46 billion, or $1 a share, about flat with past year.

The bank had $958.4 billion in total loans outstanding at the end of the quarter. Wells Fargo & Co had a return on equity of 12.60% and a net margin of 23.30%. That represented the bank's seventh straight month of declines.Credit card applications also fell 42% during the quarter.

Profit from community banking dropped 8.7 percent to $3 billion on $521 million less revenue and $385 million more expenses.

Last Fall, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million after it was learned that its retail brokerage, Wells Fargo Advisors, was essentially padding client fees by opening multiple accounts on their behalf, and without their knowledge.

TRADEMARK VIOLATION WARNING: "Wells Fargo & Co (WFC) Posts Quarterly Earnings Results, Beats Expectations By $0.03 EPS" was originally posted by Markets Daily and is owned by of Markets Daily. The average estimate of 27 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg was for adjusted profit of 97 cents a share.

A silver lining the financial service provider can get out of the quarter is the fact that the business loans were marginally high in comparison to last years. Wells Fargo & Co has a 52 week low of $43.55 and a 52 week high of $59.99. Its adjusted revenue was $22 billion, falling short of analyst forecasts of $22.4 billion, according to FactSet.

But higher rates can also put off borrowers, and Wells had a decline in total loans to US$958 billion from almost US$968 billion in the prior quarter with a near US$8 billion drop in consumer loans in that period.

The bank's stock was down 1.5 percent in premarket trading on Thursday. The bank closed 39 branches in the first quarter of this year and is on track to close a total of 200 this year and 200 next year.

CFO John Shewsberry said in a press release accompanying earnings that the results were driven primarily by improved loan quality and a lower tax bill. Under Federal Reserve rules, an ownership interest above 10 percent "would materially restrict our commercial activity with Wells Fargo", Berkshire said in a press release.

And, in areas where banks are finding growth, like credit-card lending, they are doling out fat rewards and cutting interest rates to lure customers from one another.

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