Wells Fargo Matches JPMorgan to Set Earnings Season Tone

Wells Fargo Will Match JPMorgan for Earnings Season
A pedestrian walks in front of Wells Fargo & Co. headquarters in San Francisco on March 14, 2012. Wells Fargo will report on Friday, April 13 at 8 a.m. New York time. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Wells Fargo & Co. moved up the release of first-quarter results, matching JPMorgan Chase & Co. and positioning the two most profitable U.S. lenders to set the tone for the industry’s earnings season.

Wells Fargo will report on Friday, April 13 at 8 a.m. New York time, about an hour later than JPMorgan, according to a March 13 statement. JPMorgan, which has been the first of the largest U.S. banks to report results since January 2009, announced its timing on March 16. Wells Fargo had been last to report among the four biggest lenders, including Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., as recently as last April.

As the two strongest U.S. banks, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo will set the standard used by investors and analysts to evaluate results that come later from rivals, said Marty Mosby, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities LLC. The change also may show that Wells Fargo executives are confident about first-quarter results and that Chief Financial Officer Timothy J. Sloan, who was named to the post in February 2011, is more comfortable in his role at the San Francisco-based company, Mosby said.

“Being in the front allows you to set the stage for your earnings and how you want them interpreted,” Mosby said in an interview. “Everyone else then has to react.” Units at the two banks represent most of the industry’s business lines, he said.

Wells Fargo had reported earlier in the earnings cycle, then fell back after the purchase of Wachovia Corp., Mary Eshet, a company spokeswoman, said in phone interview. The bank moved the date earlier in recent quarters, she said. JPMorgan’s earnings schedule depends on the timing of its board meeting, Joseph Evangelisti, a bank spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Wells Fargo is the biggest home lender and ranks fourth by assets among U.S. banks. JPMorgan, based in New York, leads by assets and deposits. New York-based Citigroup, ranked third by assets, plans to post results April 16, while Bank of America, ranked second and based in Charlotte, North Carolina, expects to report on April 19, according to company statements.

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