Citigroup (C) reported third-quarter results today (Friday) before the bell. After writedowns of $4.4 billion and weak revenues virtually across the board, the bank reported its fourth straight quarterly loss of $2.81 billion, or 60 cents a share. This compares with last year's third-quarter net income of $2.21 billion, or 44 cents a share. Revenue dropped 23% to $16.7 billion. However, the results were better than analysts had expected.
A host of problems caused Citi to report these losses, including continued trouble from mortgage-related securities, higher credit costs, and increased loan loss. One area where many banks have started to see increased losses is their credit card businesses. Consumer credit issues are expected to be one of the major problems to rock the markets next, as the problem is spreading from the U.S. into Latin America and other countries as well. Citi reported a $902 million loss in their global credit card business, with revenue down 40%.
Citi saw a $1.1 million loss in their consumer banking unit due to credit losses and their institutional clients group, which includes securities and investment banking divisions, reported a 48% drop in revenue after $2.02 billion in losses.
Although the government recently announced that they will buy preferred stock in Citi amongst eight of the nation's other largest banks, having enough capital is not the only concern for financial firms. While mark-to -market losses weigh on capital, credit losses have a greater effect on earnings. Fortunately, predicting credit losses is much easier than forecasting the amount of write-downs a firm might have. Thus, this will create more visibility with respect to earnings in the future.
On a more positive note, its U.S. deposits rose 6% quarter over quarter to $270 billion. The rise in deposits can be attributed to a flight to quality. Many other large, successful banks like J.P. Morgan (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC) have seen similar increases in deposits over the past two quarters.
Chief Executive Vikram Pandit remained positive about results in a press release; "While our third-quarter results reflect both a difficult environment as well as continued write-downs on our legacy assets, we are making excellent progress on the parts of our business we control, including expense reduction, headcount, and balance sheet and capital management."
Citigroup closed at $15.90, down 2.03%.
Disclosure: The mutual fund the investor is associated with is long JPM.