Wells Fargo reported higher earnings, higher revenue and a record number of mortgage applications on Friday.
It's just that nobody was paying all that much attention.
The spotlight instead was on JPMorgan Chase, where executives fielded questions about a giant $5.8 billion trading loss.
Then again, that's the way Wells Fargo usually works: getting ahead by staying under the radar.
The comparison was not lost on Wells Fargo's chief financial officer, Tim Sloan.
"It's not that we don't make mistakes," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. "But we don't take on a risk and then decide that the way we get comfortable with it is by hedging it. We just don't do it in the first place."
The bank, based in San Francisco far from its New York peers, was considered a large regional bank until the end of 2008, when it stepped onto the national scene by scooping up Wachovia, a major bank in the South that was teetering on the brink of collapse.
Wells Fargo has since staked its reputation on mortgages, churning out more loans than any other bank. It's fond of pointing out that, at least compared with peers, it relies more on plain-vanilla customer lending than investment-banking services that can carry big profits but also big risk. It's now the biggest U.S. bank by market value, a crown it took from JPMorgan.
When Moody's downgraded the ratings of most of the major banks last month, Wells Fargo escaped intact.
The Associated PressPosted Jul 14, 2012
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