Wells Fargo earnings beat, but Fed moves key

Wells Fargo delivered quarterly earnings on Tuesday that topped expectations.

The nation's biggest mortgage lender posted first-quarter earnings of $1.04 per share, down slightly from $1.05 a share in the year-earlier period.

Revenue rose to $21.28 billion from $20.63 billion a year ago.

Analysts expected earnings per share of 98 cents on $21.24 billion in revenue.

Shares of Wells Fargo were down slightly in premarket trading following the announcement. (Get the latest quote here.)

"There are still challenges ahead. I think the margin is still under pressure. We still see lower yields on loans," Morningstar banking analyst Dan Werner said shortly after the announcement. "I would not look for huge moves in the margin in the next couple of quarters just because the Fed is not going to move" that strongly.

Werner expects a quarter-point hike by Federal Reserve policymakers at their September meeting, and maybe a half-point by the end of the year.

"So when the Fed does finally move rates it will be helpful for all the banks because they are all asset-sensitive," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in an interview. "Loans and securities are going to reprice faster than those deposits initially."

Wells Fargo said mortgage applications in the pipeline rose to $44 billion as of March 31 from $26 billion at the end of December.

JPMorgan, which also reported better-than-expected results Tuesday, said net income from mortgage banking rose nearly three-fold in the first quarter.

Read MoreJPMorgan profit up on fixed-income trading rebound

Wells Fargo was in the news last week with Blackstone—agreeing on Friday to purchase most of GE Capital Real Estate's assets for about $23 billion. Specifically, the companies said, "Wells Fargo has agreed to purchase performing first mortgage commercial real estate loans valued at $9 billion in the United States, U.K. and Canada."

"This is an important transaction in the commercial real estate industry," said Mark Myers, Wells Fargo's head of commercial real estate. "The portfolio of performing loans we've purchased is a strong addition to our commercial real estate platform in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, which are all active lending markets for us."

The bank made the move following news that General Electric would be selling most of GE Capital assets and using those profits for a $50 billion buyback.

Wells Fargo's stock has risen nearly 14 percent in the last 12 months.

Last quarter, the bank reported earnings per share in line with analysts expectations amid a 15.5 percent rise in commercial and industrial lending, while credit card loans also rose 16 percent.

Before Tuesday, the company had met or exceeded Wall Street's expectations each of the last four quarters.

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—Reuters contributed to this report.