Wells Fargo (WFC) kicked off Q1 earnings season for our Buy List. The big bank earned 99 cents per share which beat estimates by two cents per share.
The San Francisco-based bank reported a profit of $5.46 billion, or 99 cents a share. That compares with $5.8 billion, or $1.04 a share, in the same period of 2015. The latest results included a tax benefit of 7 cents a share.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected earnings of 97 cents a share.
Revenue rose 4.3% to $22.2 billion, making Wells Fargo the first big bank to report rising revenue in the first quarter. Analysts had expected $21.61 billion.
Analysts have long looked to Wells Fargo as a bellwether of the housing market, but in recent quarters they are also looking to the bank as a barometer for how falling oil prices are affecting big banks.
Low oil prices have pushed many energy firms into distress, which affects Wells Fargo more than other large banks since it is one of the most sizable lenders to the industry. Within Wells Fargo’s energy loan book, the number of loans labeled as “classified,” or in danger of defaulting, is on pace to exceed 50% this year, up from 38% in the fourth quarter.
In the first quarter, Wells Fargo charged off $204 million in energy loans, an increase of about 75% from the amount it charged off in the fourth quarter. The bank also added $200 million to funds for loans that could sour because of deterioration in its oil and gas portfolio. That marked the first time since 2009 that Wells Fargo built up reserves for loan losses reserves instead of releasing them.