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Here’s Why Wells Fargo & Co. Continues to Sit Atop the Biggest Banks

If you thought Citigroup getting its dividend rejected was the biggest story last week, you're dead-wrong.

The biggest news actually came from Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC  ) .

Wells Fargo announced it would be raising its dividend from $0.30 to $0.35, which would bump its dividend yield to almost 3% at today's prices. An interesting fact about that dividend of $0.35 is it's just ahead of the $0.34 Wells Fargo paid in 2008 before it was forced to slash it to $0.05 as a result of the financial crisis.

This is more evidence Wells Fargo has fully recovered from the depths of the recession.

Yet the big news was not the dividend, but instead, the approval of the plan to buyback a staggering 350 million shares. At today's prices, that would be nearly $17.5 billion. If that sounds like a lot, it is. Although unrelated, to truly put it into perspective, that amount is roughly the same size as Chipotle Mexican Grill.

What is perhaps even more striking is the firm notes it still has a remaining 74 million of share repurchases which have been authorized under its last plan, meaning it has nearly $20 billion in available repurchase authorization. 

Source: Flickr / Matthew Devalle.

The reason for optimism
In addition to its dividends, last year Wells Fargo noted it repurchased 124 million of its common stock and in total returned 55%, or $11.4 billion, of its income to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

At a recent presentation its CFO, Tim Sloan, highlighted the firm hoped to return between 50% and 65% of its income to shareholders. Although it delivered remarkable returns in 2013, this means Wells Fargo believes it had further to go, which is evidenced all the more by its latest request.

It is unlikely Wells Fargo will utilize the entirety of its repurchase authorization in 2014, but its request for such a staggering amount demonstrates that not only does the firm believes its stock is something worth buying at today's prices, but also that it is fully committed to returning the money it earns back into the wallets of shareholders.

And that is something its owners must be happy about.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 4:26 PM, WallerWaller wrote:

    Patrick - You forgot to mention the 10 to one reverse stock split. A 35 cent dividend is worth only 3 and one-half cents per new share.

    Please revise your article about WFC.

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 5:24 PM, TMFHurricane wrote:


    I think you are mistaken. WFC has never done a 10 for stock split. According to WFC's own investor relations website, all dividends in their chart are adjusted for the any previous splits. Patrick's information is correct.

    Here's is WFC's link:

  • Report this Comment On April 02, 2014, at 7:20 PM, J6R wrote:

    WallerWaller is thinking about Citi's reverse split,that made my 2000 C shares 200 . I sold Citi at a loss because of that dirty stunt . There are many better ways to increase share-holder value. The reverse stock split has not worked yet .

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Patrick Morris

After a few stints in banking and corporate finance, Patrick joined the Motley Fool as a writer covering the financial sector. He's scaled back his everyday writing a bit, but he's always happy to opine on the latest headline news surrounding Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and all things personal finance.

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