Wells Fargo vows to disclose all legal matters amid scandals, analyst says

Pedestrians pass in front of a Wells Fargo & Co. bank branch in New York, U.S.

Eric Thayer | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Pedestrians pass in front of a Wells Fargo & Co. bank branch in New York, U.S.

Wells Fargo is feeling the heat and will disclose all outstanding legal matters, not just updates, in its quarterly regulatory filings, according to Evercore ISI.

The bank’s stock fell 1 percent Friday after the company revealed in an SEC filing it may find a “significant increase” in unauthorized accounts after a new review of the bank’s consumer sales scandal.

Wells Fargo shares have underperformed the market this year after multiple controversies involving the unauthorized opening of accounts in customers’ names and improper charges for auto insurance customers didn’t seek. Its stock declined 4.1 percent year to date through Friday versus the S&P 500’s 10.6 percent return.

“Wells Fargo flagged several items in its 10Q filed on Friday, which together, weighed on the stock in late afternoon trading … On our follow-up call, mgmt noted that as Wells Fargo tries to improve its transparency, it has adopted a policy whereby it will disclose all outstanding legal matters (and not just updates) in its 10Q filings, going fwd,” Evercore ISI analyst John Pancari wrote in a note to clients Sunday. “Visibility into the regulatory and legal issues at Wells remains limited, and earnings momentum appears to be suffering somewhat.”

The analyst reiterated his outperform rating and his 12-month price target of $62 for Wells Fargo shares, which is 17 percent higher than Friday’s closing price.

Pancari said Wells Fargo admitted its legal costs could be more than the current high end $3.3 billion estimate.

“On our follow-up call, mgmt confirmed there has been no change to RPL [reasonably possible potential losses] since the 2Q earnings call and the filing of the 10Q. Notably, Wells Fargo acknowledged that due to the uncertain nature of legal outcomes, actual losses may be in excess of the RPL,” he wrote.

An analyst told CNBC Friday he didn’t expect Wells Fargo would need to raise additional capital in order to meet its legal costs.

“Wells, just like everyone in the banking system today, are so overcapitalized that thought wouldn’t even enter our heads,” Gerard Cassidy, banking analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said on CNBC’s “Closing Bell.”

Last September, Wells Fargo reached a $185 million settlement with regulators for creating what the bank then said could be as many as 2.1 million accounts in customer names without their permission.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren pressed Fed Chair Janet Yellen on July 13 to remove all of the Wells Fargo’s directors who were on the board when the fake accounts scandal came to light.

Wells Fargo sent the following statement in response to this story:

“The disclosures included in our filing [Friday] reflect the company’s continued commitment to transparency. Our top priority is to rebuild trust, and this work includes an ongoing effort to identify and address other areas or instances where customers may have experienced financial harm. We remain focused on making things right for our customers, team members, community partners and shareholders and on building a better Wells Fargo.”

— CNBC’s Michael Bloom and Evelyn Cheng contributed to this story.

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