Wells Fargo posts $2 billion profit in 3Q, reversing 2Q loss

In this July 10, 2019, photo a Wells Fargo building is shown in downtown Minneapolis. Wells Fargo reported earnings of $2 billion on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, less than half it made in the same period last year but a significant recovery from last quarter, when it lost $2.4 billion. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — Wells Fargo says it earned $2 billion in the third quarter, less than half of what it made in the same period last year but a significant improvement from this year’s second quarter, when it posted a loss as the coronavirus swept through the U.S.

The San Francisco bank said Wednesday that it earned 42 cents per share, down from 92 cents per share a year earlier and less than the 44 cents Wall Street analysts were expecting.

Wells reported revenue of $18.86 billion in the quarter, also down from last year’s third quarter when it took in $22 billion. The bank’s revenue for the quarter surpassed Wall Street projections of $18 billion.

Wells set aside $769 million in the third quarter for loan loss provisions, which is the money set aside to cover potentially bad loans. That’s just a fraction of the billions it set aside in the previous quarter when the coronavirus shuttered the economy, forced millions of people out of work and jeopardized the ability of businesses and individuals to make loan and mortgage payments.

Wells Fargo lost $2.4 billion in the second quarter, the first quarterly loss for the bank since the real estate crash of 2008.

Wells Fargo said its net interest income was $9.4 billion, down $2.3 billion from last year’s period. Noninterest income of was $9.5 billion, down $891 million from 2019.

On top of the difficulties presented by the virus pandemic, Wells has been in seemingly constant trouble with regulators for years. The nation’s biggest mortgage lender, Wells has been operating under strict federal guidelines due to a series of scandals, limiting its ability to grow.

In 2018, the Fed capped the size of Wells Fargo’s assets after a number of beginning in 2016 with the uncovering of millions of fake checking accounts its employees opened to meet sales quotas. The Fed lifted that cap in April as part of the federal government’s Payroll Protection Program because many of Wells’ small business customers were getting shut out from applying.

Shares in the consumer bank fell about 2% in pre-market trading.

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