In a CNBC interview, CFO Tim Sloan said that the bank's net interest margin fell because deposits grew.
"We'll take that problem all day long," he said. "We love growing deposits. It grows relationships, it grows customers and it allows us to grow our fee income over time."
Wells posted earnings excluding items of 89 cents a share, on revenue of $21.9 billion.
Wall Street had expected Wells Fargo to report earnings excluding items of 88 cents a share on $21.29 billion in revenue, according to Thomson Reuters consensus estimates.
"The company's underlying results were driven by solid loan growth, improved credit quality, and continued success in improving efficiency," Sloan said in a statement.
The bank reported total loans of $799.6 billion, up $16.9 billion from the previous quarter, including double-digit growth in commercial banking, credit card, mortgage, and retail brokerage.
Bank Earnings: What to Watch For
Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, said fees from mortgages climbed to $3.1 billion from $2.4 billion a year ago as homeowners continued to refinance their homes at low rates. The bank issued $125 billion in mortgages during the quarter, which was down from $139 billion in the third quarter.
The bank's provision for loan losses fell to $1.8 billion from about $2 billion a year ago as borrowers continued to do a better job of making their payments.