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Citigroup earns $2.9 billion in Q2, beats Street

By Pallavi Gogoi

Associated Press

Published: Monday, July 16 2012 8:26 a.m. MDT

NEW YORK — Citigroup made $2.9 billion from April through June and exceeded Wall Street estimates, helped by lowering the amount it keeps aside for loan losses because more of its customers paid back loans on time.

Net income was down 12 percent from a year ago.

The bank said Monday that it took a loss of $424 million from selling its stake in Akbank, a Turkish bank. It drew down loan loss reserves by $984 million and took an accounting gain of $219 million because the value of its debt decreased.

Excluding the loss from the Akbank sale and the accounting gain, Citi's net income was $1 per share, exceeding the 89 cents expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet, a provider of financial data.

Revenue was $18.6 billion, down 10 percent from the year-ago quarter. Analysts expected $18.8 billion.

Citi's stock rose 40 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $27.05.

As more of its customers, both consumer and commercial, paid back loans on time, Citi kept aside less for future losses — $27.6 billion at the end of the quarter, compared with $34.4 billion in the prior year period.

The volatility in the second quarter from the European debt crisis hurt Citi's earnings in the investment banking division. Investment banking revenue declined 21 percent to $854 million.

The bank's chief financial officer, John Gerspach, pointed out in a conference call with journalists that strength in the dollar hurt earnings for the bank's international operations.

Gerspach said the Mexican peso had depreciated about 5 percent in the quarter and the Brazilian real about 11 percent. He said the bank was still excited about the opportunities for growth in those two countries, especially in credit cards.

Over the weekend, Citigroup said it will not seek to increase its dividend this year but may seek permission to raise it in 2013.

"I believe we will be in good shape and have the capital to be able to do that by the end of the year," CEO Vikram Pandit told the U.K.'s Sunday Telegraph in a rare interview. "That's a decision that will have to be taken with our regulators and we will have those conversations at the end of the year."

The bank did not ask the Federal Reserve for permission to raise the dividend last month, when it submitted its latest capital plan.

Citi currently pays a token amount of 1 cent per share every quarter. Pandit had previously promised shareholders a higher dividend earlier in the year.

The Fed in March said the bank did not have enough capital to raise its dividend and withstand another financial crisis. That was a blow to Pandit, whose 2011 compensation package of $15 million for last year and $10 million retention pay was rejected by shareholders in an advisory vote the following month.

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