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Wells Fargo hit by legal charges, mortgage banking slump

Reuters

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co. <WFC.N>, which has been embroiled in a prolonged scandal over its mortgage and sales practices, on Friday missed Wall Street revenue estimates for a fourth straight quarter, sending its shares down 3 percent.

Revenue at the bank has suffered as it tries to bounce back from dishonest practices that led to a severe grilling by Congress and faced the ire of millions of consumers. But the problems have taken a toll on the third largest U.S. bank.

In the latest quarter, earnings fell 19 percent to $4.6 billion as it bore costs related to old mortgage problems.

On an adjusted basis, the bank earned $1.04 per shares, scrapping past estimates of $1.03, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 2 percent to $21.9 billion, hit by a 37 percent slump in mortgage banking. Analysts had forecast revenue of $22.4 billion.

Total expenses rose 8.2 percent to $14.35 billion.

Wells Fargo's operating efficiency ratio was 65.5 percent. Operating efficiency is a closely-watched metric that looks at expenses as a percentage of revenues.

Net income in Wells Fargo’s Community Banking segment, the largest of its three major businesses and the one most directly impacted by the sales scandal, was $2.2 billion down 31 percent from a year ago due to the charge.

Wells Fargo is the largest U.S. residential mortgage lender, making more than $98 billion worth of loans in the first half of the year, according to the trade publication Inside Mortgage Finance.

That is nearly double the total for JPMorgan <JPM.N>, the number two mortgage lender. Wells Fargo has been keeping a greater share of the mortgages it makes, boosting loan growth.

(Reporting by Sweta Singh in Bengaluru and Dan Freed in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr)