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The SEC Lets Wells Fargo Off The Hook Over Mortgage Securities

trefis.comNov 29, 2012

In what comes as a welcome relief for Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and its investors, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has decided to drop its inquiry into the bank’s alleged misrepresentation of facts while selling mortgage-backed securities worth around $60 billion. [1] The SEC had announced the investigation early this year, and had also involved the federal court in procuring requisite information from the bank in March. Unlike its peers Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) who are jousting with a long list of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) related lawsuits, Wells Fargo has no similar lawsuit filed against it. And with the SEC’s investigation being closed, the bank has essentially been given a clean sheet about its conduct in securitizing mortgages before 2008.

We maintain a $37 price estimate for Wells Fargo’s stock, which is at a premium of under 10% to current market prices.

In what comes as a welcome relief for Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and its investors, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) has decided to drop its inquiry into the bank’s alleged misrepresentation of facts while selling mortgage-backed securities worth around $60 billion. [1] The SEC had announced the investigation early this year, and had also involved the federal court in procuring requisite information from the bank in March (see Wells Fargo Takes Heat From SEC in $60 Billion RMBS Investigation). Unlike its peers Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) who are jousting with a long list of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) related lawsuits, Wells Fargo has no similar lawsuit filed against it. And with the SEC’s investigation being closed, the bank has essentially been given a clean sheet about its conduct in securitizing mortgages before 2008.

We maintain a $37 price estimate for Wells Fargo’s stock, which is at a premium of under 10% to current market prices.

The SEC’s investigation into Wells Fargo’s mortgage securitization practices between September 2006 to early 2008 was a major source of worry because of the bank’s significant focus on the mortgage business over recent years. This is because of two reasons:

  1. The immediate fear of litigation and settlement-related fees which Wells Fargo would potentially have to shell out as a result of the lawsuit that the investigation could spawn. This would increase Wells Fargo’s non-interest expense considerably when such charges are imposed – hitting profitability for the bank which has seen record profits over the last few quarters.

  2. In our opinion, the bigger concern rising from the investigation was its impact on Wells Fargo’s stature in the mortgage industry. As seen in the chart below, mortgages contribute to nearly a quarter of Wells Fargo’s total value. And any signs of wrong-doing established by the SEC would have severely tarnished the bank’s reputation in the industry – making it difficult for it to originate or service mortgages. Moreover, such a discovery would also call to question the underlying quality of its huge mortgage portfolio, hitting investor confidence in the country’s largest bank in terms of market capitalization.

Wells Fargo is the second bank which saw the mortgage-related inquiry against it dropped by the SEC, after Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS). JPMorgan Chase and Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS) were not so lucky, though, with the two banks entering into settlements totaling $417 million with the SEC this month.


Back to November 2012 Archive

CFLA was founded by the Nation's Leading Foreclosure Defense Attorneys back in 2007 to serve the Foreclosure Defense Industry and fight pervasive Bank Fraud. Since opening our virtual doors, CFLA has rapidly expanded to become the premier online legal destination for small businesses and consumers. But as the company continues to grow, we're careful to hold true to our original vision. For us, putting the law within reach of millions of people is more than just a novel idea—it's the founding principle, just ask Andrew P. Lehman, J.D.. With convenient locations in Houston and Los Angeles, you can contact Our National Account Specialist and General Manager / Member Damion W. Emholtz at 888-758-2352 for a free Mortgage Fraud Analysis or to obtain samples of work product, including cutting edge Bloomberg Securitization Audits, Litigation Support, Quiet Title Packages, and for more information about our Nationally Accredited and U.S. Department of Education Approved "Mortgage Securitization Analyst Training Certification" Classes (3 days) 24 hours for approved CLE & MCLE Credit (Now Available Online).

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