Wells Fargo shares fell on Friday after the beleaguered bank reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue, reflecting the continuing impact of near-zero interest rates.
For the fourth quarter, Wells Fargo made a profit of $2.99 billion, or 64 cents per share, beating analysts’ estimates of 60 cents per share. The fourth-largest U.S. bank took a $781 million restructuring charge and a $321 million hit from “customer remediation” costs related to its sales practice scandal even though it has repeatedly indicated that the worst of the fallout is behind it.
Revenue fell 10% to $17.93 billion, with net interest income declining 17% to $9.28 billion. Analysts had expected revenue of $18.127 billion and net-interest income of $9.34 billion.
“Although our financial performance improved and we earned $3.0 billion in the fourth quarter, our results continued to be impacted by the unprecedented operating environment and the required work to put our substantial legacy issues behind us,” CEO Charlie Scharf said in a news release.
On news of the results, Wells Fargo shares dipped 7.8% to $32.04 in trading Friday. The stock had “rallied more than 28% in the fourth quarter as the rollout of [COVID-19] vaccines and the prospects for more fiscal stimulus raised hope for a strong economic recovery,” CNBC reported.
According to the bank, the decline in net interest income was “primarily due to the impact of lower interest rates, which drove a repricing of the balance sheet, lower loan balances primarily due to weak demand and elevated prepayments, lower investment securities balances, and higher mortgage-backed securities premium amortization.”
“Because the bank does not have a large capital markets business like JPMorgan Chase or Citigroup Inc … it has fewer ways to cushion declines in revenue from low interest rates,” Reuters noted.
In the fourth quarter, Wells Fargo’s corporate and investment banking revenue dropped 7% to $3.11 billion, including a 25% slide in equity markets trading revenue, while the consumer banking and lending division saw revenue decline by 5% to $8.61 billion.
The restructuring charges reflect Scharf’s turnaround efforts at the bank that he joined in 2019.