Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Citigroup Q4 Loss Narrows, Loans Seem to Stabilize

From WashingtonPost.com:

Citigroup Inc. posted a $7.6 billion quarterly loss on costs related to repayment of U.S. bailout funds and still-high loan losses, but the bank's shares edged higher as some investors saw glimmers of hope. In a sign of stabilization, losses on consumer and corporate loans fell compared with the third quarter.

"They've crept out of the abyss like everyone else," said Henry Asher, president at Northstar Group, whose clients own Citi shares.

"They have a long way to go before they start reporting significant profits," Asher added.

The government still has a bigger stake in Citigroup than in any other major U.S. bank, reflecting the swamp of toxic assets that threatened Citi's survival. Chief Executive Vikram Pandit told investors that U.S. consumer credit remained an issue for the bank, although he said some credit fundamentals appeared to be stabilizing, especially internationally.

The third-largest U.S. bank said its quarterly loss amounted to 33 cents a share, compared with a loss of $17.3 billion, or $3.40 a share, a year earlier. The loss matched analysts' average estimate, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Citigroup shares rose 7 cents, or 2 percent, to $3.49 in midday trading.

"It's not an impressive quarter in my view," said Matt McCormick, portfolio manager and banking analyst at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel. Investors are still worried about further credit losses ahead, as well as the impact of sweeping changes to banking regulation, McCormick said.

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