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Wells Fargo posts 5% rise in first-quarter earnings

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC), the nation's fifth-largest bank, said Tuesday that first-quarter earnings grew 5 percent from a year ago due to strong performance in the company's regional banking, consumer finance and large corporate banking segments.

Net income rose to $1.86 billion, or $1.08 per share, in the January-March period from $1.77 billion, or $1.03 per share, a year ago. Revenue increased 13 percent to $8.09 billion from $7.15 billion last year.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial were looking for the company to post earnings of $1.09 per share on sales of $7.9 billion in the latest quarter.

Net interest income increased 10 percent from last year, driven by a 12 percent increase in earning assets. Noninterest income grew $539 million, or 17 percent, from first quarter 2004.

The company said that the double-digit increase in fee income was broad-based across businesses, with growth particularly high in trust and investments, credit and debit cards, consumer loans and mortgage banking. Much of the increase in trust and investment fees was due to the acquisition of assets under management from Strong Financial Corp., which closed Dec. 31.

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