Wells Fargo nets record profit, but mortgages slow

By Christina Rexrode

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 2:50 p.m. MST

But the settlement is also a reminder that more legal tangles and regulatory fines could be waiting for the banking industry. For some analysts, the unpredictability makes the industry's future earnings a wild card.

When Jefferies analyst Ken Usdin asked on a conference call how much more the bank might have to spend in buying back soured mortgages from investors, chief financial officer Tim Sloan replied: "The biggest mistake anybody in this industry can make is predict when that is going to end."

When Deutsche Bank analyst Matt O'Connor asked if there were "other skeletons in the closet" in the mortgage unit, Stumpf said he couldn't predict what might come up. But, he added: "I can tell you I am pleased that we are this far through the process and we have gotten a lot of big things behind us."

Revenue rose 7 percent, to $21.9 billion, beating the $21.3 billion expected by analysts polled by FactSet. Wells Fargo increased its business in credit cards, wealth management and other units, and charged more in fees.

The bank earned $4.9 billion before paying dividends on preferred stock, up 25 percent from $3.9 billion a year ago. That amounted to 91 cents per share, more than the 87 cents per share analysts were expecting, and up from 73 cents last year. Revenue and earnings were also up for the full year.

In recent years, JPMorgan Chase has usually been the first bank to report earnings, but Wells Fargo had been encroaching on that territory. In the past two quarters, Wells Fargo moved up earnings to release them on the same day as its rival. JPMorgan reports on Wednesday.

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