Do Citi’s Earnings Show Banks Are Back On Track?

Tailing the releases of quarterly results from banks like JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) late last week, Citigroup (NYSE:C) has followed suit, and has maintained the strong performance standards set by its other Wall Street cohorts.

Citi reported earnings per share of $1.29, above the average analyst estimate of $1.17. Revenue came in at $20.8 billion excluding the credit and debt value adjustments, and made Citi one of the few banks which posted higher revenues than expected, beating projections by $0.65 billion. Net income of $3.8 billion represents a 30 percent hike on 2012′s first-quarter revenue of $2.9 billion.

Citigroup cited wider spreads between the interests rates it pays for deposits and what it earns on loans and other investments. Loan losses declined substantially, giving the bank better margins as downtrends in mortgage foreclosures and layoffs helped keep those divisions strong.

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“Achieving consistent, high-quality earnings is one of my top priorities and these results are encouraging. During the quarter, we benefitted from seasonally strong results in our markets businesses, sustained momentum in investment banking, continued year-over-year growth in loans and deposits in Citicorp, and a more favorable credit environment,” said Michael Corbat, Citigroup’s CEO. ”However, the environment remains challenging and we are sure to be tested as we go through the year,” he added. “It is critical that Citi be viewed as an indisputably strong and stable institution and we made progress towards that goal.”

Overall, net income tripled in the quarter over quarter metric, following a disappointing fourth quarter when income was suppressed by continued mortgage problems stemming from the financial crisis, and was forced to pay out over $1.3 billion on legal fees and expenses alone during that time. The bank has been consistently cutting down its soured mortgage portfolio, as evidenced by its strong first quarter results released on Monday.

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