Wells Fargo May Prove Warren Buffett Right Again (Update 1)
Updated to reflect additional analyst comments and updated share prices
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When Wells Fargo(WFC) reports first-quarter earnings later in April it may resolve a lingering question about Warren Buffett's bank investing strategy: Has the "Oracle of Omaha" put his money behind America's most profitable bank?
Going into first quarter earnings, investors are expecting big results out of Wells Fargo, after its record fourth quarter earnings outperformed rivals. The San Francisco-based bank saw its earnings grow nearly 30% in 2011, significantly beating the sub-10% earnings growth of competitors like JPMorgan and Citigroup(C) , while Bank of America(BAC) swung from a 2010 loss to a moderate profit.
Wells Fargo is expected to earn $3.9 billion in first quarter profit on $20.3 billion in revenue, according to consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg. For 2012, the nation's fourth largest bank by assets is expected to post a record $17.5 billion profit on $81.3 billion in revenue, which would put it in contest with the $18.5 billion in profit that JPMorgan is expected to earn.
While the profit gap with JPMorgan is expected to narrow next year, don't count Wells Fargo out in 2012. Momentum is on its side.