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Goldman Sachs upgrades Wells Fargo to buy, says it’s an ‘underappreciated earnings growth story’

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Investors are underestimating Wells Fargo ‘s potential, according to Goldman Sachs. Analyst Richard Ramsden upgraded shares of Wells Fargo to buy from neutral. The analyst also hiked his price target on the stock to $48 per share from $46, implying upside of 19% from Friday’s close of $40.22. Wells Fargo shares ticked up more than 1% in the premarket. “We see WFC as an underappreciated earnings growth story, due to best-in-class revenue upside and efficiency improvement from rates and loan growth-driven NII, and further idiosyncratic expense rationalization potential as it laps regulatory related cost inflation and continues to rationalize the business footprint,” Ramsden wrote in a Monday note. The bank stock — which is down 16% this year, better than the S & P 500’s near 25% decline — is better positioned to weather a recession compared to its peers, as it has less credit risk, according to the analyst. It also has “significant additional upside earnings potential” if it were to exit its asset cap, though the analyst had no timeline for when a cap would be lifted. Still, Ramsden projects roughly 14% EPS upside. “We expect WFC to reach the longer term aspirational 15% ROTCE by 2024E, much more quickly than we had previously anticipated, and note that the market appears to underestimate WFC’s long term return potential,” read the note. At the same time, Goldman Sachs downgraded shares of Citigroup to neutral from buy, and cut its price target to $47 from $54, saying the company needs to build more capital than its peers. It’s also more likely to get hurt during a recession than its peers. Citigroup shares ticked slightly lower in premarket trading. –CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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