Financial Performance

Wells Fargo Shares Dip 3% on Profit Outlook

The bank's Q1 earnings beat estimates but it reduced its net interest income guidance for 2019 to a 2% to 5% decline.
Matthew HellerApril 12, 2019
Wells Fargo Shares Dip 3% on Profit Outlook

Wells Fargo delivered a strong earnings report on Friday but its shares tumbled on a reduced net interest income outlook.

For the first quarter, the bank reported that net income rose to $5.51 billion, or $1.20 per share, from $4.73 billion, or 96 cents per share, the previous year. Revenue declined slightly to $21.6 billion from $21.9 billion.

Analysts had expected earnings of $1.09 per share on revenue of $21.0 billion.

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“Our financial results included continued strong credit performance and high levels of liquidity,” CFO John Shrewsberry said in a news release. “In addition, our continued de-risking of the balance sheet and consistent level of profitability have resulted in capital levels well above our regulatory minimum.”

However, Wells Fargo also said it now expects net interest income to fall 2% to 5% this year from 2018. It previously forecast between a 2% rise and a 2% fall.

“Numerically, for the quarter, earnings were okay but management dropped guidance, in particular, for net interest income for the full year,” Morningstar analyst Eric Compton said. “There’s still just a lot of negatives overhanging that.”

David Long, managing director of equity research at Raymond James & Associates, also noted that noninterest income came in lower than expected in the quarter and loan growth was pressured by declines in all categories except commercial real estate.

In trading Tuesday, Wells Fargo shares dropped 3% to $46.28.

As Reuters reports, the lowered net interest income outlook “comes at a time of uncertainty for the fourth-largest U.S. lender following the abrupt departure of former Chief Executive Tim Sloan last month.”

“The bank has been working to keep a tight grip on costs as it continues to battle the fallout from a wide-ranging sales practices scandal that first erupted in 2016, efforts that helped profit rise in the first quarter even as revenue slipped,” Reuters added.

Shrewsberry on Friday reaffirmed that Wells Fargo was on track to hit its 2019 cost target. But the longer-term outlook is less certain, since the bank suspended its expense targets for 2020 after Sloan’s departure.