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Business

Citigroup rebounds after massive losses

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Latest update : 2009-04-17

Citigroup, the US bank rescued by the government after massive losses in 2008, ended a five-quarter losing streak with a 1.6-billion-dollar first-quarter profit. Citi suffered losses of 5.1 billion dollars in the same period last year.

AFP - Citigroup swung to a first-quarter profit of 1.6 billion dollars, rebounding back from massive losses in 2008 with the help of massive US government aid, the troubled banking giant said Friday.
   
Citi returned to the black following losses of 5.1 billion dollars in the same period last year and 18.72 billion for all of 2008.
   
Citi stockholders did not get a slice of the profit due to the special share arrangements of the banking group, and took a loss of 18 cents per share but this was not as bad as analyst projections of a loss of 34 cents per share.
   
"Our results this quarter reflect the strength of Citi's franchise and we are pleased with our performance," chief executive Vikram Pandit said.
   
"With revenues of nearly 25 billion dollars and net income of 1.6 billion, we had our best overall quarter since the second quarter of 2007."
   
The US government is getting a 36 percent stake in Citi with the latest bailout and conversion of special preferred shares to common stock.
   
But ordinary Citi shareholders did not share in the profit because of dividends on the US government shares as well as other private stakes including from a Saudi prince and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.
   
Total revenues rose 99 percent from a year ago to 24.8 billion dollars and the company's interest margins rose half a point to 3.3 percent.
   
The results came a day after JPMorgan Chase beat analyst forecasts with a profit of 2.1 billion dollars and comments from other major banks suggest an easing of the crippling credit crisis.
   
The optimism has helped Citi, which saw its share price fall more than 95 percent over the past year to under one dollar, but closed at 4.01 dollars on Thursday. Citi shares fell 4.2 percent to 3.84 dollars in midday trade.
   
Standard & Poor's analysts said the results reflect one-time gains and may not be sustainable.
   
"Citi's core consumer, credit card, and commercial banking operations suffered from deteriorating credit performance, as reflected in higher charge-offs and nonperforming loans across virtually all major asset categories," S&P said in a research note.
   
Citi, which has been hammered as a result of the US housing meltdown and subsequent credit crunch, said it had trimmed 13,000 jobs since the fourth quarter and 65,000 since peak levels to leave its total workforce at 309,000.
   
By segment, Citi said its consumer banking operations lost 1.2 billion dollars in the quarter, hurt in part by exchange rates but also from loan delinquencies.
   
Citi's credit card operations managed a profit of 417 million dollars, but that was down 66 percent from a year ago on currency factors and write-offs of bad debt.
   
The results were lifted by investment banking, which made a profit of 2.8 billion dollars in the quarter.
   
Citi is being kept afloat by some 45 billion dollars from the US Treasury, which has moved to rescue a banking sector reeling from losses in the housing sector and securities tied to real estate.
   
The banking firm said it had not yet finalized plans to convert some US government and other preferred shares to common stock under an announcement made in February.
   
Citi said the exchange terms will be determined after the "stress tests" on the banking system ordered by the administration of President Barack Obama.
   
Separately US conglomerate General Electric reported a 35 percent drop in first-quarter profit to 2.89 billion dollars, but beat expectations as its financial arm remained profitable.
   
GE, one of the world's largest companies with market capitalization of nearly 130 billion dollars, lost its top AAA credit rating due to problems in its financial arm, hit hard by the global financial and economic crisis.
   
The troubled unit nevertheless earned 1.1 billion dollars in the first quarter.
   
"The only number Wall Street cared about was the one for GE Capital which might have become a sink hole of bad assets and tremendous write-offs, not entirely unlike those experienced by the money center banks," said Jon Ogg at 24/7 WallStreet.
 

Date created : 2009-04-17

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