Citigroup posted a profit of $3.23 billion, or $1.40 a share, down from $4.91 billion, or $2.07 a share, in the same period a year ago. Analysts had expected 91 cents a share, according to FactSet. In the second quarter, profit had fallen to 50 cents a share.
Revenue in the consumer bank fell as people continued to struggle through the recession and lower interest rates hit profit margins on lending. The Wall Street operations turned in higher revenue as trading surged in the uncertain market and bankers helped nervous companies raise cash and sell stocks and bonds to ride out the downturn.
& Co., which also reported results Tuesday, followed a similar pattern, though its overall profit rose 4%.
Still, Citigroup’s results were better than the second quarter’s and topped analyst expectations. The bank slowed the pace of bulwarking for its loan portfolio, taking $2.26 billion of loan-loss provisions in the quarter. It had put more than $7 billion aside in each of the past two quarters. Loan losses remained low at $1.92 billion, better than the prior quarter.
The bank released some reserves from its consumer business while adding more for corporate and institutional loans. Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason told reporters the increase reflected uncertainty around what could be the worst-case scenario.
The bank’s outlook for the U.S. economy next year grew more dire, as it predicted higher unemployment and a slower recovery in gross domestic product than it had expected in July.
Citigroup has had its own upheaval as well. Chief Executive Michael Corbat surprised analysts when he said last month he would retire in February, handing the reins to bank President Jane Fraser. Last week, regulators hit Citigroup with a $400 million fine and orders to take expensive, time-consuming steps to improve its risk-management infrastructure.
On a conference call Tuesday morning, analysts asked for more guidance on what it will cost Citigroup to comply with the consent orders from the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. But executives declined to put a number on the problem.
“These are investments we need to make,” said Mr. Corbat. “In hindsight, we should have done them faster and prevented it from coming to this.” The bank is spending $1 billion this year on the fixes, and expenses for the third quarter were higher than expected because of the fine.
The uncertainty is an issue for Citigroup, whose profitability already trailed peers. Citigroup’s shares are down about 44% this year, underperforming the KBW Nasdaq Bank Index’s 30% drop.
Shares dropped during the call and were down 4.1% to $44 in afternoon trading.
Total revenue fell 7% to $17.3 billion from $18.57 billion. Analysts had expected $17.21 billion.
In the consumer bank, revenue dropped 13% and profit declined 30%. Citigroup’s big credit-card portfolio has suffered in the economic slowdown. Revenue from cards declined 18%. Spending volume by customers dropped 10%, though it improved from the second quarter.
The investment and corporate-banking operations held up better than the consumer bank. Companies continued to raise new money from stocks and bond sales, creating new securities for Citigroup’s markets team to trade. Revenue for the total investment bank rose 5%, but profit slipped 10%.
Trading revenue climbed 17% to $4.66 billion and underwriting fees were up, particularly for equity. But revenue from its other businesses serving big corporations fell, including in lending and its core treasury services.
Expenses were higher than expected, partly because of the regulatory fine. Total expenses rose 5% to $10.96 billion. The bank has been working to cut costs but has said it would spend $1 billion on the risk management work this year.
Its return on tangible common equity, a measure of its profitability investors watch closely, fell to 7.9% from 12.2% a year ago, though it improved from the second quarter. The bank had aimed to get to 13.5% this year, which would have brought the metric more in line with rivals, before lowering the target and then pulling it all together.
Write to David Benoit at [email protected]
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