Wells Fargo plummets 8% after posting its first quarterly loss since the financial crisis

Wells Fargo plummets 8% after posting its first quarterly loss since the financial crisis
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  • Wells Fargo revealed second-quarter figures on Tuesday that detailed the firm's first quarterly loss since 2008.
  • The bank lost 66 cents per share, below the 33 cent estimate. Net interest income landed at $9.9 billion, missing the $10.3 billion expectation.
  • The bank's earnings were largely dented by increased loan loss reserves. Wells Fargo set aside $9.5 billion for credit loss protections over the quarter, nearly double the $4.9 billion expected addition.
  • Wells Fargo shares dived as much as 8.2% on the news before paring some losses.
  • Watch Wells Fargo trade live here.

Wells Fargo announced second quarter earnings on Tuesday that fell below analyst expectations and revealed the coronavirus' heavy toll on profitability.

The bank had a net loss $2.4 billion over the three-month period, marking its first quarterly loss since 2008. Much of the slide was fueled by a record addition to its loan loss reserves. Wells Fargo increased its credit loss reserves by $8.4 billion to $9.5 billion, topping the $4.9 billion estimate from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

The bank's shares dived as much as 8.2% on the news before paring some losses.

Here are the key numbers:

  • Revenue: $17.8 billion, down 17% from the year-ago period
  • Losses per share: 66 cents, versus the 13 cents estimate
  • Net interest income: $9.9 billion, versus the $10.3 billion estimate
  • Loans: $935.2 billion, versus the $1 trillion estimate

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The bank also cut its dividend to 10 cents per share from 51 cents, below the expected cut to 20 cents. The combination of loan loss provisions, slashed dividends, and weakened net interest income details the bank's dire outlook for near-term recovery.

"We are extremely disappointed in both our second-quarter results and our intent to reduce the dividend," CEO Charlie Scharf said in the report. "Our view of the length and severity of the economic downturn has deteriorated considerably from the assumptions used last quarter."

Wells Fargo's announcement arrived alongside other, more positive quarterly updates from major banks. JPMorgan's profits fell less than expected after record trading income offset credit provisions. Citigroup beat expectations for revenue and profit following strong performances from its fixed income and investment banking divisions.

Wells Fargo's greater focus on credit markets and lending led it to fall behind peers prioritizing trading desks. The firm's CEO also lamented having "too many management layers" and foreshadowed a multi-year plan to compete better in the sector.

"For us to bring our level of efficiency close to our peers, the math would tell you we need to eliminate over $10 billion of expenses," Scharf said in an earnings call, according to a transcript on the investment research platform Sentieo


The bank traded at $24.05 per share as of 12:01 p.m. ET Tuesday, down 55% year-to-date. The company has six "buy" ratings, 19 "hold" ratings, and six "sell" ratings from analysts, according to Bloomberg data.

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