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Wells Fargo's top two executives just gave the stock a $5 million vote of confidence

Lauren Thomas
Andy Tenke | CNBC. Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan predicted the scandal-ridden bank will achieve the growth it had lost during its fake-accounts scandal.

Wells Fargo's new chief executive officer and its chairman together bought $5 million worth of stock on Monday, just days after shares skidded on mixed earnings results.

Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC)'s CEO Timothy Sloan scooped up nearly 40,000 shares in the bank valued at $2 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Sloan acquired 39,000 shares at $51.65, each, the filing said. He has served in the CEO role at the bank since October, and before that he was Wells Fargo's chief operating officer and president.

Chairman Stephen Sanger also bought stock in the company on Monday: 58,342 shares at $51.65, each, for a total value of $3 million, another filing said.

"These are new stock purchases, as opposed to compensation," a Wells Fargo spokesperson said in an e-mail to CNBC.

Monday's buying may be an attempt by top executives to shift this latest news cycle, Max Magee, a senior research analyst for stock buyback research group InsiderScore, told CNBC.

"Given that insiders receive generous stock-based compensation, insider buying of any kind is rare, and the fact that these two purchases are coming on weakness does suggest that there may be some opportunism in their decision to buy here," Magee said.

Shares of Wells Fargo closed up over 2 percent at $52.72 per share on Monday, as investors took the purchases as a vote of confidence in the beleaguered bank.

Sloan took over for John Stumpf, who left his role amid a cross-selling scandal that bank has tried to put behind it this year by clawing back money paid to past executives, including Stumpf.

Last Thursday, Wells Fargo reported mixed first-quarter earnings, one of the few reports with Sloan at the helm. And last Wednesday Warren Buffett 's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) said it is selling 9 million shares of Wells Fargo due to possible Federal Reserve regulations.

In a call with analysts and investors last week, Sloan acknowledged that not all of the bank's metrics are back to prescandal levels.

"Clearly we've seen a reduction in new account openings and credit cards, and my guess is when you look at the annualized numbers you'll continue to see some deterioration in second quarter and then we'll rebound from there," he said.



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