Citigroup Reports Mixed Bag - Analyst Blog

By Zacks Equity Research,

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After reporting a disappointing result in the prior quarter, Citigroup Inc. 's ( C ) results were a mixed bag in the first quarter. First-quarter 2012 earnings came in at 95 cents per share on revenues of $19.4 billion. It was hurt by accounting charges though modestly benefited from its recent stake sale activities and increasing global consumer banking as well as transaction services revenues.

With credit spreads tightening in the quarter, Citigroup results included a loss of $1.3 billion for credit valuation adjustment ( CVA ) and debt valuation adjustment ( DVA ). Excluding that CVA/DVA adjustments as well as net gains from minority investments, the company reported earnings of $1.11 per share on revenues of $20.2 billion. This compared favorably with the Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings per share of $1.01 and revenues of $19.8 billion.

Helped by revenue gains from its Global Consumer Banking and Transaction Services, the company's revenue, excluding both CVA/DVA and the net gain on minority investments, were just up 1% from the prior-year period. Expenses remained flat and provisions for credit losses reported a decline.

For the first quarter 2012, Citigroup reported net income of $2.9 billion compared with $956 million in the prior quarter and $3.0 billion in the prior-year quarter.

First quarter total provisions for credit losses and benefits and claims at Citigroup were down 5% year over year to $3.0 billion. The improvement was attributable to a 37% decline in net credit losses to $4.0 billion, coupled with a $1.1 billion release of credit reserves.

Quarter in Detail

At Citicorp, excluding CVA/DVA, revenues moved up 6% year over year to $19.4 billion. Higher revenues in Global Consumer Banking, Securities and Banking and Transaction Services primarily pulled the figure up.

However, excluding CVA/DVA, Citi Holdings revenues were $786 million, down 53% from the prior year quarter, primarily reflecting the company's continuing efforts to reduce this segment's assets and the absence of positive private equity marks experienced in the prior year period. Negative revenues were reported in the Special Asset Pool and Brokerage and Asset Management business and lower revenues in Local Consumer Lending segment.

On the other hand, primarily due to net gains on minority investments, Corporate/Other revenues came in at $500 million in the reported quarter, compared with a loss of $61 million in the year ago quarter. Stake sale in Housing Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (HDFC) and in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPDB) resulted in the company realizing gains in the quarter. These were, however, partly offset by the impact of hedging activities and the pre-tax impairment charge relating to Akbank T.A.S.

Operating expenses at Citigroup were flat year over year at $12.3 billion.

Credit Quality

Citigroup's asset quality continued to improve in the reported quarter with total non-accrual assets decreasing 25% year over year to $12.3 billion. The company reported a 46% fall in Corporate non-accrual loans and 6% decline in consumer non-accrual loans. Citigroup's total allowance for loan losses was $29.0 billion at quarter end, or 4.5% of total loans, down from $36.6 billion, or 5.8%, in the prior-year period.

Capital Ratios

Citigroup continued to build up its capital levels, with preliminary Tier 1 Common ratio improving to 12.4% from 11.8% in the prior quarter. Tier 1 Capital Ratio also ascended to 14.2% from 13.55% in the prior quarter. As of March 31, 2012, book value per share was $61.90 and tangible book value per share was $50.90, up 6% and 9%, respectively, from the prior-year period end.

At quarter end, Citigroup's end of period assets was $1.94 trillion, unchanged year over year while deposits of $906.1 billion, were up 5% year over year. Citi Holdings' assets were 29% below the prior year quarter level to $209 billion and represented just 11% of the company's total asset at the first quarter end.

Our Viewpoint

Following a disappointing result in the prior quarter, Citigroup's first fiscal quarter results of the year were full of noise. After encouraging results at the other banking giants such as JPMorgan Chase & Company ( JPM ) and Wells Fargo & Company ( WFC ), which reported last Friday, the market was looking forward for some impressive numbers at Citigroup.

Its global trade finance business, managed to provide some encouraging figures and recent stake sale helped in achieving some gains. But management pointed out the presence of much macro uncertainty in the days ahead.

Citigroup's underlying franchises of the consumer businesses have remained strong, but revenues have continuously been under pressure for the past several quarters. Considering the protracted economic recovery, we believe that robust top line expansion will remain elusive in the near term.

Moreover, though Citigroup's strategy to shrink non-core assets would improve the valuation over time, the trimmed Citi Holdings portfolio would result in revenue challenges, partially restricting the upside potential of the stock.

Also, Citigroup has failed to significantly enhance shareholder value following the financial crisis and this has somewhat weakened its competitive position. The company could not pass the stress test this year with its proposed plan to return capital to shareholders, implying that with such plans it would be difficult for the company to survive another financial downturn. Additionally, with the thrust of new banking regulations, there will be pressure on fees and loan growth could remain feeble.

However, investments and efficiency savings would help Citigroup in garnering a solid market share and this is quite evident from its recent quarter results. Reduction in provisions for future losses and improved credit trends are expected to counter the negatives. One can consider a company like Citigroup as a value investment given its global footprint and attractive core business. It is also among the best reserved banks.

Citigroup shares are maintaining a Zacks #3 Rank, which translates into a short-term Hold rating.

Given Citigroup's global footprint, we believe that its results give us a clue about the economic trends and the performance of the overall banking sector.  JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which kicked off the earnings season for the banking sector this time by reporting their earnings last Friday, reported better-than-expected earnings in the first quarter based on top line improvement. Next we look forward for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. ( GS ) which will report on April 17 and Bank of America Corporation ( BAC ) on April 19.

BANK OF AMER CP ( BAC ): Free Stock Analysis Report
CITIGROUP INC ( C ): Free Stock Analysis Report
GOLDMAN SACHS ( GS ): Free Stock Analysis Report
JPMORGAN CHASE (JPM): Free Stock Analysis Report
WELLS FARGO-NEW (WFC): Free Stock Analysis Report
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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks
Referenced Stocks: BAC , C , CVA , DVA , GS

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