J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. on Tuesday relinquished its position as the U.S. bank with the highest annual profit, capping a year marked by a slew of regulatory and legal issues.
The New York bank ceded the spot it held since 2010 to Wells Fargo & Co. after J.P. Morgan reported fourth-quarter earnings of $5.28 billion, down 7.3% from a year earlier.
At San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, fourth-quarter earnings rose 10% to $5.6 billion and full-year earnings rose 16% to $21.8 billion. That was enough to surpass J.P. Morgan's $17.9 billion, a figure that was down 16% from 2012, as legal costs cut deeply into the bank's bottom line.
Wells's ascension is largely symbolic—J.P. Morgan would have remained on top had it not been for $11.1 billion in legal expenses—but it does underline the rapid expansion of a West Coast bank that uses a horse-drawn stagecoach as its corporate icon.