Citigroup Earnings Call Insights: Risk-Weighted Assets, Deposits Increase

On Monday, Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) reported its third quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call. Take a look.

Risk-Weighted Assets

Glenn Schorr – Nomura: First, a quick one on risk-weighted assets. I noticed there’s been no real change the last four or five quarters. Could you talk through some of the moving parts; the pluses and minuses, and what you think might happen over, say, the next four or five quarters?

John C. Gerspach – CFO: Glenn, are you focused on the risk-weighted assets on Basel I or a Basel III basis or…?

Glenn Schorr – Nomura: Well, in the slide you gave us Basel I, so I guess I’ll stay with Basel I just because I noticed good trend.

John C. Gerspach – CFO: We’ve also given you Basel III, at least on Slide 23. So, the Basel I risk-weighted assets, as you know, they are not necessarily risk-sensitive, they’re really linked to the overall size of the GAAP balance sheet, and so, with the overall GAAP balance sheet remaining fairly stable, you’re not going to get a great deal of up or down movement in the Basel I assets. If you look at Basel III, I think what you would see there is over time continued reduction in the Basel III risk-weighted assets as the rate of risk asset decline in Holdings outpaces any growth that we would otherwise see in Citicorp. I think you see that reflected in the difference between the two multipliers where you are looking at the multiplier from Basel I to Basel III for Citicorp being 115%, whereas the Holdings’ risk-weighted assets are close to 1.9%.

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Glenn Schorr – Nomura: That makes sense. Okay. That leads to the next one on your – I think the comments just right now in your outlook was you need sustainable housing improvement to see maybe further releases. Does that mean the releases this quarter were driven by the housing improvement that we’ve seen and then that feeds into the model and what (spits) out a lower loss rate over the life of those loans?

John C. Gerspach – CFO: Let me be specific about the mortgage reserve releases that we had in this quarter. There was roughly $600 million that were specifically related to the incremental charge-offs that we had to take on the new OCC guidance related to borrowers that gone through Chapter 7 bankruptcies. So that is merely we were forced to recognize higher NCLs. We had reserves established against those assets, and so we released those reserves. The other change has to do with, as I mentioned, we sold $750 million worth of mortgage loans in the quarter, and so therefore we took down the reserves that were set aside against those specific loans. So both reserve releases were very specific in nature.

Glenn Schorr – Nomura: Then on Page 10 of the supplement, inside North American Consumer Banking, there is a the net servicing and gain on sale. I’m just thinking out loud that, this is not necessary to this quarter, but it’s over the last four quarters. You’ve seen a big pickup in gain on sale and obviously we’ve seen that trend in the market, but I’m curious, it happens when no big change in mortgage originations or the servicing portfolio. Is that strictly gain on sale and can we continue to operate at that level?

John C. Gerspach – CFO: I think that’s one of the big questions facing a lot of institutions at this point in time is as far as the ongoing pace of mortgage originations. Quarter-on-quarter we definitely saw an increase in our originations, but a lot of that is clearly being driven by mortgage refis. Though as I mentioned, we can see the mortgage refis continuing fairly strongly into at least the beginning part of next year, but that’s about as far as I am willing to go at this point in time.

Glenn Schorr – Nomura: One last very quickie is the repurchase claims were down 25%. Do you feel like you’ve been through most of the pipeline? Definitely it’s a standout versus your peers. I’m just curious on how you feel on that?

John C. Gerspach – CFO: When you take a look at the repurchase claim activity, I’d say that we certainly saw in this quarter increased activity on the part of Freddie Mac. I’d say that it’s a little difficult to gauge the overall level of claim activity between Fannie and Freddie and so I would say it’s still a little bit volatile in that area and I wouldn’t draw any conclusions as yet.

Deposits Increase

James Mitchell – Buckingham Research: Just on the deposit you guys were up $30 billion on a period-end basis sequentially. Can you talk about the drivers if you think that was sort of end of the quarter issues or that’s pretty sticky and if that is somewhat sustainable, can we expect to see the long-term debt footprint come down or accelerate given that deposit growth which helps your margin. I know you don’t like to talk about your margin, but your margin was up this quarter. So maybe you could talk about that interaction.

John C. Gerspach – CFO: Let me try to address your first question regarding deposits which – again as you know they were up fairly strongly, being $30 billion quarter-over-quarter. I would say that roughly almost 40% to 50% of that increase I would put on episodic quarter and deposits. So I wouldn’t read that into a continuing trend, however when we do look at each of our businesses whether they be transaction services on the corporate side or the consumer businesses, we do continue to see strong momentum in our deposit gathering activities, particularly in what we would refer to as core operating deposits. So, the deposit franchise is certainly strong but it was impacted by some episodic growth at quarter-end.

James Mitchell – Buckingham Research: Could you disclose or give us the benefit from the trust preferred buyback on the margin and if we can expect to see at least some additional benefit as you pulled back your long-term debt footprint?

John C. Gerspach – CFO: If you recall at the end of last quarter the guidance – last quarter our NIM I think was 281 basis points and the guidance that I gave last quarter which incorporated the retirement of the TruPS would be that I expect a net interest margin to be flattish perhaps plus or minus two or three basis points so we actually came in a little bit higher than the upper end of my range we came in about two basis points higher than that and that’s primarily being driven by lower cost of deposits than what I would have had built into the earlier guidance.

James Mitchell – Buckingham Research: One last question switching up on fixed income. You guys – we only have one other comparison but you guys did pretty well relative to one of your other peers. Is it a function of mix in terms of your global footprint or is it – do you think there were some evidence of market share gains or is it just hard to say at this point?

John C. Gerspach – CFO: It’s little hard for me to say that we’ve had – depend market share gains quarter-to-quarter I will say that I do think our results you know really demonstrate the diversity of our franchise both from a product offering as well as from a geographic distribution. And our model really is focused on serving our core customers.

A Closer Look: Citigroup Earnings Cheat Sheet>>