Citigroup beats expectations but revenues still fall

Emma Haslett
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Citigroup Reports 1.3 Billion Quarterly Profit
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One of the US' largest lenders has surprised and delighted investors by reporting a smaller than expected fall in revenues.

The figures

Revenues fell five per cent to $17.8bn (£14.6bn) in the third quarter, beating expectations of $17.3bn.

Meanwhile, net income fell 11 per cent to $3.8bn, pushing earnings per share down to $1.24, from $1.31 the year before.

Banking revenues fell six per cent to $4.1bn, although investment banking revenues rose 15 per cent to $1.1bn, which reflected increased industry-wide debt underwriting activity during the quarter, and corporate lending and banking revenues rose seven per cent to $4.3bn.

Consumer banking operation, however, looked less encouraging: net income in the North American arm of its consumer banking fell 25 per cent to $811m, driven by an increase in the cost of credit and higher operating expenses, which rose 12 per cent to $2.6bn.

Shares in Citi were 2.2 per cent higher in pre-market trading, at $48.47

Why it's interesting

Global banking has been a pretty interesting place to be in the last few months - not least because of the ripples from volatility caused by June's Brexit vote.

US lenders in particular face further pressure from increased scrutiny, after the sales scandal enveloping Wells Fargo that has resulted in a $185m fine, and the loss of 5,000 employees - including its chief executive.

Citi said it will now focus on shareholder returns, such as the acquisition of Costco's portfolio and recently announced sales of its retail operations in Argentina and Brazil.

And though the bank avoided any references to Brexit in its filing today, in August it said it had "not experienced any significant negative impact" from the result of the EU referendum - with some areas of its business, such as markets and securities services in its institutional clients group, actually performing strongly, partly thanks to the referendum.

What Citigroup said

Citi chief executive Michael Corbat said:

I am very encouraged by the underlying momentum across our franchise, notably in several areas where we have been investing. In the quarter, both our global consumer bank and institutional clients group had solid year-over-year revenue increases in nearly every business line and geography. We also continued to grow core loans and deposits while reducing non-core assets to just three per cent of our balance sheet.

In short

The lender may be faced with increased scrutiny, but it is performing strongly.

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