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$WFC General Update: WFC expanded its lending & banking capabilities in Manufactured Home Communities sector & hired two industry veterans, Lew Grace & Matt Krasinski. Additional capabilities are the result of Wells Fargo’s recent acquisition of $9Bil portfolio of commercial real estate loans from GE Capital Real Estate.
$WFC has declared a quarterly common stock dividend of $0.39 per share, payable March 1, 2018 to stockholders of record on Feb. 2, 2018. The BoDs also increased the company's authority to repurchase common stock by an additional 350MM shares.
$WFC announced that Senior Executive Vice President Mike Loughlin will retire as the company's Chief Risk Officer. The company expects to name a successor in the next few months and Loughlin will remain in his current role through the transition.
While $WFC's expenses continue to increase on higher litigation accruals and other growth investments, the bank said it is still committed to its target of $4Bil in expense reductions. It also expects to bring its efficiency ratio down to 59% by the end of 2018.
After a series of scandals over the past year, $WFC is now trying to gain confidence of its customers and build long-term relationships. In 2017, the bank has launched numbers of programs and initiatives, such as Automatic zero balance alerts and Overdraft Rewind, which has already helped over 350,000 customers avoid overdraft charges.
The US corporate tax cuts has saved $WFC about $3.35Bil in 4Q17, but the bank had to set aside $3.25Bil in the quarter to pay for legal costs related to mortgage-related regulatory investigations, sales practices, and other consumer-related matters. The banking giant reported a 17% earnings growth and a 2% revenue growth for 4Q17.
The BoD of $WFC has elected three new independent directors: Celeste A. Clark, former Chief Sustainability Officer at $K; Theodore F. Craver, Jr., former CEO of $EIX; and Maria R. Morris, recently Interim Head of the US Business at $MET. The three new directors will join the board on Jan. 1, 2018. The board has named six new directors in 2017.
Despite the impact of $1Bil discrete litigation accrual for mortgage-related regulatory investigations in 3Q17, $WFC's average deposits grew 4% YoY, client assets reached record levels in wealth and investment management, debit card purchase volume grew 5%, balances in consumer and general purpose credit card portfolio grew 5%.
For 3Q17, $WFC's revenue came under pressure, declining 2% YoY to $21.9Bil. Operating expenses rose 8%, mainly due to the legal costs the bank is facing to resolve its fake accounts fall-out. Notably, to fight rising legal costs, the bank has planned to slash its expenses by $4Bil by the end of 2019 by shutting down more than 400 branches.
Amidst the struggle to recover from its fake accounts scandal that resulted in millions in penalties and resignation of then-CEO John Stumpf, $WFC posted lowest quarter earnings in seven years. The bank's profit for 3Q17 fell 19% YoY as it set aside $1Bil to cover regulatory investigations into lending practices prior to the 2008 financial crisis.
$WFC named Mike Roemer as Chief Compliance Officer, who will join the bank in January 2018. Roemer recently served as Group Head of Compliance for UK lender Barclays. Notably, Barclays' CEO Jes Staley is under a regulatory investigation over a whistleblowing scandal, while Wells Fargo is trying to get out of its fake account scandal.
As part of its $2Bil cost-cutting initiative, $WFC, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, has closed 93 branches, including 54 in 2Q17, and is on track to close 200 branches this year. The company, as planned, will close an additional 250 branches in 2018.
Amidst the sales scandal, $WFC still continues to invest in its businesses and technologies. At the end of 1Q17, $WFC became the first large bank in the US to offer card-free access to all of its ATMs. Customers have used the new card-free ATM access code over 1MM times as of the end of 2Q17, said the company.
Recently appointed CEO Tim Sloan, who is working to rebuild confidence in $WFC after the fake account scandal that led to the departure of his predecessor, said the company has received preliminary court approval for $142MM class action settlement and expects the settlement to resolve substantially all claims in 10 other pending class actions.
$WFC's auto portfolio continued to decline in 2Q17 and was down $2.5Bil from 1Q17, as the company is taking proactive steps to tighten underwriting standards. The bank expects a further decline in the auto portfolio through 2H16, but sees it stabilizing in 1H18.
In an effort to improve operating performance by focusing on core banking products and services, $WFC has announced the sale of its Commercial Insurance business (expected to close in 4Q17) and Shareowner Services business (expected to close by 1Q18-end). Notably, the company sold its Crop Insurance and Health Benefit Services businesses last year.
$WFC's net interest income for 2Q17 grew 6% YoY to $12.5Bil, helped partly by the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike for the second time this year in June. The bank's provision for credit losses fell 48% from a year ago primarily due to improvement in the oil and gas portfolio.