Wells Fargo

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After passing the Fed’s stress test in March, Wells Fargo set about appeasing shareholders — especially the bank’s largest, Warren Buffett, who increased his position by 10% over the past year. CEO John Stumpf quickly raised dividends and approved a stock repurchase plan to buy back an additional 200 million shares.And with its $15 billion acquisition of Wachovia mostly digested, the nation’s largest home lender is once again focusing on its core business: extending credit. In the fourth quarter alone, the bank supplied $210 billion in new loans to businesses and consumers. —P.N.

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Citigroup

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Things are looking up for Citigroup. For the first time since 2006, the bank logged four consecutive quarters without a loss. Meanwhile a newly restored dividend — albeit a measly one penny per share — and a ten-for-one reverse stock split could drag its shares out of the single digits.But investors still have a lot to be wary about. The company continues to unload assets — some $108 billion worth last year alone. Add the ongoing ramifications of financial reform and the credit card act, and Citi’s top-line growth looks pretty hamstrung down the road. —P.N.

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J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

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Of the big U.S. banks, Jamie Dimon’s is the only one that didn’t turn in a losing quarter during the financial crisis. Recovery is bringing stronger results: J.P. Morgan Chase posted record profits in 2010.Chase is working on consolidating its lead this year. For the first time, it’s poised to surpass both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley in the lucrative M&A business. And in the biggest sign yet that credit markets have thawed, J.P. Morgan extended a one-year, $20 billion bridge loan to AT&T for its $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile, the bank’s biggest single loan commitment ever. —P.N.

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Bank of America Corp.

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CEO Brian Moynihan may have hoped that predicting $45 billion to $50 billion in earnings down the road would mollify investors distressed at the bank’s $5.8 billion in losses over the last two years.But some critics think the embattled bank chief is being overly optimistic. After all, Bank of America still needs to resolve continuing issues from the mortgage mess and a number of embarrassing lawsuits over the bank’s foreclosure practices. And shares are off 78% from their pre-meltdown high — no wonder the Fed recently nixed the bank’s plans to restore a dividend program. —P.N.

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