Wells Fargo gets hit where it hurts: No longer most valuable

Forget about the $185 million fine Wells Fargo (WFC) agreed to pay for secretly opening millions of accounts without customers' permission. Here's something that really stings: Wells Fargo just lost the title as the most valuable U.S. bank for the first time in three years. It's now second behind JP Morgan Chase (JPM).

Shares of Wells Fargo dropped $1.58, or 3.3%, to $46.96 Tuesday after the bank continues to be in damage-control mode connected with its settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The fine is only a tiny fraction of the company's annual profit. But the stock declines brings the market value of Wells Fargo down to $236.9 billion, a 21% decline from its nearly $300 billion value in mid-July.

Wells Fargo's market premium has consistently made it more valuable than other U.S. banks the past five years, even though it's not the biggest in terms of revenue and profit. Wells Fargo was worth 14% more than JP Morgan at the end of 2015, but it posted nearly 7% less revenue of $83.7 billion. The bank's ability to have broad financial relationships with customers, many having a checking account, savings account and mortgage, made it attractive to investors. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA) is the largest owner of Wells Fargo stock with a 10% stake.


But the tables have been turned in terms of stock market value at least. On Tuesday, shares of JP Morgan fell 53 cents, or 0.8%, to $66.53, less than the drop in Wells Fargo's shares. That gives JP Morgan, the bank with the most revenue, also the biggest market value of $240.3 billion among U.S. banks. Berkshire Hathaway has the largest market value of any company in the broader financial sector, which includes banks, in the Russell 1000 index.

Most bank stocks have suffered the past two weeks. . The Select Sector SPDR Trust (XLF) exchange traded fund, which contains shares of leading financial firms, is down 2.7% from two weeks ago. But during that same period, Wells Fargo has suffered much more, dropping 7.2%.


Company, symbol, market value ($ millions)

Berkshire Hathaway, BRK.A, $359,406.0

JPMorgan Chase, JPM, $240,273.1

Wells Fargo, WFC, $236,936.7

Bank of America, BAC, $160,419.5

Citigroup, $136,321.4

U.S. Bancorp, USB, $73,988.1

The Goldman Sachs, GS, $71,208.8

American International Group, AIG, $62,346.9

Morgan Stanley, MS, $60,145.2

American Express, AXP, $59,455.8

Source: S&P Global Market Intelligence, USA TODAY


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