Wells Fargo will close out one the most difficult years in its 165-year history by trying to convince investors that the future remains bright.
The second-largest U.S. bank by assets operated under a dark cloud during 2016. Revelations during the year that Wells Fargo employees had created false accounts for some 2 million customers as part of a practice known as cross-selling created scandalous headlines and shook investor confidence.
In total, the controversy cost the bank a $185 million fine that was a pittance for an institution with $1.7 trillion in assets. But the fallout exacted a much larger reputational price.
"The bank has been subjected to severe political and public outrage and has faced several lawsuits and investigations as well," Zacks Equity Research said in a report. "The year 2016 seems to have dealt another blow to Wells Fargo."
Investors bailed on the stock when the story broke in September, pushing shares down as much as 16 percent as the bank's performance badly lagged its peers.
However, Wells Fargo participated strongly in the late-2016 rally, and the stock has surged more than 23 percent since the low point of the fake account scandal. Shares have fallen 1.9 percent in 2017.
That sets the stage, then, for the fourth-quarter earnings report scheduled for release Friday morning.