Derivatives. Credit default swaps. Proprietary trading. Market making.
Listen to some industry leaders, and you may think this is what modern-day banking is all about. But that would be a mistake, and Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) is all the proof you need.
Yes, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) has the largest derivatives portfolio of all U.S. banks, and yes, Citigroup (NYSE: C ) has operations in over 90 countries. Even Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) , a bank that, five years later, still struggles to deal with a pre-crisis acquisition spree, ranks among the top performers in the S&P for 2012.
But if you boil it down, of the largest U.S. banks, only Wells is truly outperforming. Wells leads these banks in growth, in return on equity, and in return on assets. And it is doing it the old-fashioned way, with deposits, loans, and cash management.
Wells Fargo's dedication to solid, conservative banking helped it vastly outperform its peers during the financial meltdown. Today, Wells is the same great bank as ever, but with its stock trading at a premium to the rest of the industry, is there still room to buy, or is it time to cash in your gains? To help figure out whether Wells Fargo is a buy today, I invite you to download our premium research report from one of The Motley Fool's top banking analysts. Click here now for instant access to this in-depth take on Wells Fargo.