CITI’S stock price shot up out of the gate yesterday, rising to $4.50 by lunchtime in New York (or $45, as we’ll learn to call it soon after the group’s upcoming “reverse stock split”, which merges every ten shares into one).
That a 5.7 per cent slump in pre-tax profits was enough to beat expectations points to chief executive Vikram Pandit ongoing problems in dragging this banking behemoth out of the doldrums.
Admittedly, it wasn’t all glum news: mortgage delinquencies have continued a steady downward trend and Citi Holdings has managed to shift enough non-core assets to feed through to less damaging losses on the bottom line.
But on the core side, steady improvement seems elusive. Even the bank’s non-retail businesses went backwards compared to last year, with revenues in investment banking down 19 per cent and equity and fixed income dropping nine and 22 per cent respectively.
American retail banks are having a tough time, but Citi’s patchy recovery extends beyond its consumer business lines. Even with the return of its dividend next quarter, Citi is hard to get excited about.