Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) will announce its earnings before the market opens on Friday, January 11th. The company’s fourth quarter 2012 earnings will mark an end to a year which should have spelt growth and recovery for the company,  but ended up delivering much less than was expected.

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Analysts predict that the company earned $0.89 per share in the last three months of 2012. The same analysts predicted that the company took in revenue of $21.29 billion. Those number represent a substantial rise in earnings from last year, but there has been a substantial fall in revenue.

The fourth quarter of 2011 saw Well Fargo & company earn 73 cents per share on revenues of $22.09 billion. The company is managing to take in less money, but turning it into higher profits. The downward trend in revenue, seen in many businesses this earnings season, is worrying.

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is rated as a buy by most analysts. The main argument in favour of purchasing the stock centers around the expected growth in financial institutions as recovery takes hold of the US economy.

That argument has been repeated consistently for more than two years now. It is , however, working, though not nearly as quickly as its proponents will have hoped. Wells Fargo & company stock increased in price by just over 24% last year. In the opening days of 2013, the company’s stock has increased in price by more than 2%.

The firm’s stock price growth was uneven last year, as the firm faced a difficult world economy, while steadily improving its own business. The major problem in 2012 came when the company announced its earnings for the third quarter in October.

The firm announced in October that its Net Interest Margin, NIM- the gap between its investment returns and investment expenses per assets – had dropped by 25 basis points. The NIM is a key metric for a financial institution’s performance, and investors, having expected a drop of 10 basis points, flocked from the bank, causing a fall in stock.

Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) will announce those numbers before the open of the market tomorrow morning. The key figures will be the earnings per share and revenue, but sharp investors will keep an eye out for the company’s NIM to get a better picture of what’s going on at the bank.

2013 will, like 2012, be a key year in the history of Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC). If the firm is to truly recover from the financial crisis of 2008, it’s going to have to show substantial recovery in revenue, not just in earnings. Investors need to see the bank doing something more than squeezing a little extra from a withering market.

At its height in 2008, on September 19th, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) shares stood at $39.80. This means that right now the company’s stock is trailing its all time high by a little more than 1%. If the firm announces a positive surprise tomorrow, traders who bought into Well Fargo in 2008 could sell the stock, and make a profit.