Wells Fargo may seek dividend boost, stock buyback

BOSTON (AP) — Wells Fargo may boost its dividend and buy back more of its stock when it submits its capital plan to the Federal Reserve early next year, the company's chief financial officer said Thursday.

CFO Timothy Sloan revealed the possible plans as he spoke with industry analysts at a conference in Boston.

"We're going to go through the process but our expectation is we're going to recommend an increase in our dividend and continue to repurchase more shares and to continue and to return more capital to shareholders in total," Sloan told the BancAnalysts Association of Boston conference.

The company has an ongoing dialogue with regulators regarding capital and will submit its capital plan to the Fed in the first quarter, spokesman Ancel Martinez said.

Wells Fargo on Oct. 25 declared a dividend for the fourth quarter of 12 cents, the same payout in the previous two quarters. In March, the company paid a special first-quarter dividend of 7 cents, which along with the regular dividend of 5 cents, paid out 12 cents for the quarter. It then announced it would boost its quarterly dividend to 12 cents.

The company also said then that its board has increased the authority to repurchase common stock by an additional 200 million shares.

The dividend increase and additional share repurchase authority was part of the capital plan submitted to the Federal Reserve Board in January 2011.

"We have confidence in our capital plan, which recognizes the continued strength of our capital position and supports our goal of returning over time to a more normalized dividend payout ratio of 30 percent," CEO John Stumpf said in a statement issued March 18.

Shares of Wells Fargo & Co. rose 7 cents to $25.40 in afternoon trading. They're off about 18 percent so far this year. Shares have traded as high as $34.25 in the past 52 weeks.