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B of A beats: Bank of America reported earnings of $4.96 billion, or 41 cents a share, for the third quarter, compared to $4.62 billion, or 38 cents a share, in the same period of 2015. That beat analyst estimates of 34 cents a share. Revenue rose about 3% to $21.6 billion, beating Street forecasts of $20.97 billion.
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Wells' hits headwinds: Although Wells Fargo's $185 million penalty to settle its phony accounts scandal didn't have much of an impact on its overall third quarter financial results, there was an immediate and sizeable impact on in its flagship retail banking business. Customer visits with branch bankers fell 10% in September compared to the same month a year earlier, consumer checking account openings plunged 25% and credit card applications dropped 20%. Mortgage referrals from retail banking slumped 24% in September from August. CFO John Shrewsberry said the scandal "will be a headwind" in its retail banking unit going forward. Wall Street Journal, American Banker
And it isn't just negative publicity that is weighing on new retail account openings, the Journal's "Heard on the Street" column notes. "The bank, once known for its aggressive emphasis on cross-selling, has ended product sales targets for retail employees. It is working on an entirely new incentive plan that it says will stress customer service. What this means for sales going forward is anyone's guess." Washington Post, American Banker
Yet, the Financial Times' Jonathan Ford writes, "the bank's San Francisco headquarters hardly feels like any sort of crime scene," arguing that the bank hasn't done nearly enough to clean up the mess it created. "Far from helping the regulators or prosecutors with their inquiries, Wells has instead been fighting a vigorous PR battle to deflect the scandal's impact and move on under its existing bosses," he says. "The bank should not be allowed to dodge further scrutiny by shunting [recently retired Chairman and CEO John] Stumpf into well-cushioned retirement."
Indeed, agrees Gretchen Morgenson at the New York Times, what Wells needs is a thorough housecleaning, not a simple changing of the guard from one long-time company insider to another one. "The elevation of Timothy J. Sloan, the Wells Fargo president and former chief operating officer, to succeed Mr. Stumpf, and the simultaneous appointment of an independent board chairman seem like incremental moves from a bank that really needs a do-over to repair the damage," she writes. "Mr. Sloan may indeed be a great manager. But one of the big questions looming over him is whether his long tenure at Wells Fargo is an asset or a liability."
Wall Street Journal
Big trouble in the Big Easy: First NBC Bank, which invested heavily in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina in 2006 thanks to generous federal and state tax credits, has run into trouble of late. The tax credits have led to questions about the bank's earnings, capital levels and accounting, at the same time the bank is struggling with bad loans and securities. According to the FDIC, First NBC is no longer "well capitalized," the SEC is investigating its accounting and it faces delisting by Nasdaq. "This makes First NBC something of an anomaly: a publicly traded U.S. bank running into financial problems at a time when bank failures remain low and regulatory scrutiny is tougher than ever," the Journal reports.
A tale of two Streets: Strong third-quarter results from trading and investment banking at JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup last week bode well for the other two big Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which report quarterly earnings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, respectively. "For now, at least, Wall Street looks a slightly more comfortable place to be than Main Street. Banks in the US continue to fret over the spillover effects of the fake-account scandal at Wells Fargo, and are urging staff in branches and call centers to focus less on pushing products. But over in investment banking, the mood is generally brighter."