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Dick Bove: Why I'm still not buying Wells Fargo, despite Tim Sloan's 'superb' efforts

  • CEO Tim Sloan has taken huge efforts to try to turn Wells Fargo around, widely followed banking analyst Dick Bove told CNBC.
  • However, Bove's problem with Wells comes down to the fundamentals.
  • Vining Sparks' Marty Mosby, on the other hand, is bullish.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan is doing a "superb job" in restoring the company, but widely followed banking analyst Dick Bove told CNBC he's still not buying the stock.

Sloan testified about the bank's fake account scandal before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday.

"Tim Sloan has taken huge efforts to try to turn this company around and re-establish its credibility," the equity research analyst at the Vertical Group said in an interview with "Closing Bell" on Tuesday.

However, his problem with Wells Fargo comes down to the fundamentals.

"For the last seven years they haven't been able to increase their operating earnings. And they haven't been able to increase them in the last 12 months," Bove said. "Now they're facing a restructuring of the business at a time when they need to do something to show they can increase sales and earnings and it isn't happening."

Wells Fargo & Company CEO and President Tim Sloan testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 3, 2017.
Aaron P. Bernstein | Reuters
Wells Fargo & Company CEO and President Tim Sloan testifies before the Senate Banking Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 3, 2017.

Wells Fargo has admitted employees enrolled customers in programs without their knowledge in an effort to meet aggressive sales goals. About 3.5 million accounts were affected.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren demanded Sloan be fired.

"At best you were incompetent, at worst you were complicit," the Massachusetts Democrat said.

Sloan said he believes the bank was making strides in restoring its reputation and promised more changes are on the way.

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is still a believer in Wells Fargo and its CEO. Berkshire is Wells Fargo's largest shareholder, holding a 9.4 percent stake.

When asked whether he sold any shares of Wells Fargo, the billionaire investor said "only enough to stay under 10 percent, which was something the Fed requires."

Marty Mosby, director of banks and equity strategies at Vining Sparks, is also bullish. He believes Wells Fargo will re-establish itself next year as the headlines go away and headwinds to earnings disappear.

"You'll see the earnings growth come back as we look into 2018 and 2019," he told "Closing Bell."

Mosby has a strong buy rating and a $65 price target on the bank, although he doesn't think the stock will outperform much through year-end.

"Wells Fargo is a long-term investment," he said. "While they are at all-time highs, relative to the group they've underperformed since the announcement of this crisis a year ago by over 20 percent. So there's some relative value in Wells Fargo that you can catch."

Bove thinks that with the stock just a few points shy of its all-time high, it's "pretty clear" that people are no longer looking at what companies are producing and the quality of their loan portfolios.

"All they're looking at is some mythical theory that if interest rates go way up that bank earnings will go way up," he said.

Bank stocks surged after the Federal Reserve indicated in September that another rate hike was possible this year.

— CNBC's Jeff Cox and Silvana Henao contributed to this report.

Disclosure: Vining Sparks has received compensation for investment banking services in the past 12 months from Wells Fargo.

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