Boston, MA 03/10/2014 (wallstreetpr) – Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) is back from the financial crisis of 2008 and stronger than ever. While all its banking peers have left the worst of the crisis behind them, Wells Fargo has been left particularly unscathed. JP Morgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM), Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), and Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC) continue to be embroiled in various litigations with various government agencies and face prosecution in some cases.
Sub-prime Lending is Back
Wells Fargo’s rising confidence in its financial health is reflected in their recent decision to lower the bar for certain government-backed mortgages. Wells Fargo will “begin accepting scores of 600, down from 640, for FHA and VA loans,” according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News. Since these loans are guaranteed by the FHA, the idea of going back to sub-prime lending is not as crazy as it sounds. One of reasons why Wells Fargo is going ahead with certain kinds of sub-prime lending again is because it’s settled its disputes with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. When its competitors such as JP Morgan are still unsure about mortgage lending, Wells Fargo is well placed to steal a march over its rivals both financially as well as a ‘good corporate citizen.’ Wells Fargo had never made the worst of the mortgage lending errors. However, it got stuck with about $120 billion of bad debt when it bought Wachovia.
Wells Fargo as Hope Diamond
With the U.S. economy slowly picking up, the housing market is also starting to get back on its feet. Lenders like Wells Fargo want to attract a portfolio of healthy mortgages by being first movers in offering cheap mortgage lending. No wonder then that Warren Buffett described the company as a ‘Hope diamond.’ Mr. Buffett has continued to buy more stocks in the company making it his top holding. He started buying into Wells Fargo in 1989 and now owns a little more than 9% of the company’s stock. Mr. Buffett’s holding in Wells Fargo is worth more even than his holding in his other favorite, The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO).
Wells Fargo’s stock has risen by about 50% over the past two years and 190% over the past five, according to USA Today. This diamond certainly appears to be destined for a bright future.