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Citi's (C) Growth Prospects Look Bright, Time to Hold?

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On Nov 24, 2016, we issued an updated research report on Citigroup Inc. (C - Free Report) . Amid the current regulatory pressure and challenging revenue environment across the banking sector, this New York-based banking giant remains focused on its streamlining moves and product enhancements, while maintaining a strong capital position.

Citigroup’s third-quarter 2016 earnings per share outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate, driven by decline in operating expenses. Though the company witnessed decline in overall revenues, it recorded higher fixed income markets revenues, supported by an improved trading environment. Also, investment banking revenues improved owing to rise in industry-wide debt underwriting activity during the quarter.

As of Sep 30, 2016, the company’s loans were up 2% year over year at $638 billion, while deposits climbed 4% year over year to $940 billion.

In the earnings conference, management stated that it expects growth in the developed and emerging markets to pick up next year, while uncertainties tied with Brexit still persist.

Management noted that North America Consumer Banking achieved volume growth in the third quarter despite persistently shrinking branch footprint. It highlighted that while over the past several years the company has reshaped its branch network, enhanced technology and remained focus in its core six markets, it will undertake further investments for growth.

Citigroup now remains focused on its segmentation strategy associated with Citigold wealth management platform and improving digital and mobile banking capabilities. Additionally, the company will continue to upgrade the branch network with smart branches and Citigold centers.

Notably, Costco acquisition will not be really accretive to Citigroup‘s earnings until in the later part of 2017 and certainly in 2018. Management projects increased profitability driven by the cards business, throughout 2019.

The company will invest around $1 billion in Mexico over the next four years, primarily in technology, branches and ATMs. It anticipates maintaining positive operating leverage in fourth-quarter 2016 and every year, throughout the investment period, on the back of revenue growth and cost savings from technology upgradation.

Shares of the company gained more than 20% over the past three months.



The restructuring and streamlining efforts, along with an attractive core business, should support future performance. In addition, Citigroup remains committed to enhance shareholders’ value on the back of a solid capital position. However, sustained pressure on the company’s net interest income remains a concern amid the lingering low-rate environment. Moreover, several issues, such as a stringent regulatory landscape and litigation burden, remain key concerns.

Over the past 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate moved north 2% to $4.69 for 2016, while it edged down 1% $5.10 for 2017.

Citigroup currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Other Stocks to Consider

Bank of America Corporation (BAC - Free Report) : The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2016 has moved up 15.7% to $1.47 per share for 2016 and 1.9% to $1.58 per share for 2017, in the last 60 days.  

The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK - Free Report) : Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year increased 4% to $3.15 per share and climbed 3.6% to $3.42 per share for 2017.

Comerica Incorporated (CMA - Free Report) : Over the last 60 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the current year grew 9.2% to $2.97 per share and climbed 10.4% to $3.92 per share for 2017.

Notably, all the three stocks carry a Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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