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Bank of America Corp (BAC): Seven Things You Need to Know About Wells Fargo & Co (WFC)

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With more than $1.4 trillion in assets, I wouldn’t exactly call Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) an under-the-radar bank, but it typically doesn’t make the headlines the way its big-bank peers do. That’s a good thing.

If you can be the fourth-largest bank in the U.S., be the top holding in Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A), and still remain as low-drama as Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) can, in my book, that means you’re running a big bank the way a big bank is supposed to be run. Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) and Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) CEOs, take note.

Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC)

Without further ado, then, here are some of my favorite things about Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC): seven easy metrics, benchmarks, and points of view that will help you get your head around this gentle — but high performing — banking giant:

1. Outstanding 2012 share-price performance
Many of the country’s big banks did well in 2012, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC)’s outstanding performance — it returned 20.23% to shareholders from January 3 to December 31 of last year.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) shareholders saw a net gain of 25.70% in the price of their shares over the course of 2012, but they had to live through the agony of the London Whale in the process. There was no similar drama for Wells stockholders.

2. Solid year-to-date share-price performance
Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) shareholders have made a handsome 5.53% on their positions this year. Shareholders in investor darling B of A have only seen a return of 1.25% so far.

But perhaps best of all, Wells shareholders didn’t have to endure a $10 billion-plus Fannie Mae settlement for housing-boom misdeeds in the process.

3. Great fourth-quarter performance
For the fourth quarter of last year, Wells grew its revenue by 8.10% year over year and its net income by 23.90%. Kudos to the higher-drama Citi on this metric, though; it grew its income by 25.10% for Q4 on just 5.00% revenue growth for the same period.

4. Fabulous stress-test results
On the Federal Reserve’s 2013 stress tests, Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) had an actual Tier 1 common ratio of 9.9% and a stressed minimum of 7%, well above the Fed’s 5% requirement. This cool-under-pressure performance allowed the bank to raise its dividend by 20%.

5. Fabulous return on equity
Return on equity, or ROE, is a favorite metric for bank analysts. Wells has an ROE of 12.89%, easily topping Citi’s 4.27%, and blowing B of A’s 1.79% out of the water. Wells even beats the ever-boastful JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) on this metric, with its ROE of 10.98%.

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