Wells Fargo & Company (WFC)

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Wells Fargo & (WFC)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

April 20, 2011 9:30 am ET


Timothy Sloan - Chief Financial Officer and Senior Executive Vice President

John Stumpf - Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President

Jim Rowe - Director of Investor Relations


Ed Najarian - ISI Group Inc.

John McDonald - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Inc.

Paul Miller - FBR Capital Markets & Co.

Betsy Graseck - Morgan Stanley

Joe Morford - RBC Capital Markets, LLC

Christopher Mutascio - Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., Inc.

Nancy Bush - NAB Research

Christoph Kotowski - Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

Michael Mayo - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc.

Matthew O'Connor - Deutsche Bank AG



Good morning. My name is Celeste, and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to Wells Fargo First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] I would now like to turn today's call over to Jim Rowe, Director of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

Jim Rowe

Thank you, Celeste, and good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining our call today during which our Chairman and CEO, John Stumpf; and CFO, Tim Sloan, will review first quarter results and answer your questions.

Before we get started, I would like to remind you that our first quarter earnings release and quarterly supplement are available on our website. I'd also like to caution you that we may make forward-looking statements during today's call, and that those forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties. Factors that may cause actual results to differ materially from expectations are detailed in our SEC filings, including the Form 8-K filed today and the earnings release and quarterly supplement included as exhibits.

In addition, some of the discussion today about the company's performance will include references to non-GAAP financial measures. Information about those measures, including a reconciliation of those measures to GAAP measures, can be found in our SEC filings and in the earnings release and quarterly supplement available on our website at wellsfargo.com.

I will now turn the call over to our Chairman and CEO, John Stumpf.

John Stumpf

Thank you, Jim, and good morning, and thanks for joining the call and your interest in Wells Fargo. We're extremely pleased with the performance of the company in the first quarter with record earnings of $3.8 billion, up 48% from a year ago. Each of our business segments contributed to the overall profitability and the value of our diversified model was never more evident.

We generated broad-base growth across our business segments, including revenue growth in businesses as diverse as commercial and corporate banking, investment banking, commercial real estate, international banking, wealth management, brokerage, auto dealer services, merchant and payroll services. We also achieved significant improvement in credit quality during the quarter, and here, too, our improvement was broad based across our portfolios. These strong business results enabled us to continue to grow capital internally, producing an estimated Tier 1 common equity ratio under current Basel III capital proposals of 7.2%.

We're extremely pleased that we're able to reward our loyal shareholders by increasing our quarterly dividend rate, by reinstating our stock repurchase program and by calling $3.2 billion in Trust Preferred Securities. And as we just announced today, our board authorized a second quarter dividend of $0.12 per share.

As I have said many times, our merger with Wachovia is exceeding our own high expectations and has created, in our view, the most powerful platform in the industry. We completed the conversion of banking stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and New York in the first quarter. And late last week, we completed the Pennsylvania integration. Including Pennsylvania, 74% of our banking customers are now on a single system. We've had positive customer response to the new store design and enhanced product offering while continuing to provide the same focus on providing excellent customer service.

We are successfully meeting the financial needs of our customers throughout the East as evidenced by our cross sell, now reaching 5.22 products per household, up from 5.02 just a year ago. Checking accounts in North Carolina grew by 8.5% and in Florida by 12%. Sales of credit cards more than doubled in the East from a year ago. This success will help drive revenue growth for years to come as we continue to deepen the relationships of our existing customers and grow market share.

The steady progress in consolidating our company across the nation is coming at a time of transition for our industry. Two changes that have been top of mind for investors are the fate of debit interchange revenue as part of Dodd-Frank and the recent regulatory and legal actions related to the mortgage servicing and foreclosures.

Regarding debit interchange, we believe lawmakers should take the necessary time to better understand the direct and indirect consequences of the proposed reduction in debit interchange fees on consumers, merchants and banks. Banks should be fairly compensated for the value that debit cards provide for merchants and the convenience they offer consumers. Government price controls that wouldn't even enable banks to cover the cost of providing the service make no sense, particularly for consumers. We are hopeful that congress will do the right thing, which is to delay the scheduled implementation until these issues are addressed.

As you are aware, federal banking regulators recently issued consent orders regarding foreclosure policies and practices. We take this issue seriously and are committed to complying with those orders. In addition, Wells Fargo supports the idea of national servicing standards suggested by the regulators, which we hope will provide greater clarity for customers, servicers and investors.

We are not perfect, but Wells Fargo has been and always will be committed to doing the right thing for our customers and our country. We remain dedicated to helping our at-risk customers as evidenced by our over 665,000 active trial and completed modifications we've done since the beginning of 2009.

Our outreach efforts continue to grow as we have now conducted 22 of our home preservation workshops across the country, and we plan to hold twice as many this year as we did last year. We have met with over 20,000 customers face-to-face at these events, and this effort has helped us complete almost twice as many modifications for customers as foreclosures since 2009.

We have been working with our regulators for an extended period on improving our servicing practices, and we’ve already begun instituting meaningful changes to our processes. Last summer, we adopted a single point-of-contact strategy to help customers seeking loan modifications. In the fourth quarter, we established a uniform foreclosure affidavit for each judicial state subject to local rules. So we have already started making some of the operational changes and incurring some of the costs that will result from the expanded servicing responsibilities outlined in the consent order.

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