Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) has outperformed its three main competitors by such a wide margin over the past three decades that one would be excused for concluding it's in a league of its own. While its shares have returned a total of 7,070% since 1986, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), and Citigroup (NYSE:C), have returned only 1,110%, 521%, and 395%, respectively, over the same 30-year stretch.

Three things explain how Wells Fargo accomplished this:

  • It generates more revenue relative to shareholders' equity than JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.
  • It spends less of this revenue on expenses than its three too-big-to-fail peers.
  • As a result, Wells Fargo's profit margin is materially wider than that of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup.

Scroll through the brief slideshow below for a graphical illustration of these potent competitive advantages.