Citigroup profit beats estimates on reserve release

(Reuters) – Citigroup Inc comfortably beat market estimates for second-quarter profit on Wednesday as the economic recovery allowed the bank to release loan loss reserves and offset a plunge in revenue from lower trading and credit card lending.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Citi bank is pictured at an exhibition hall in Bangkok, Thailand, May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

For the quarter ended June 30, net income jumped to $6.19 billion, or $2.85 per share, from $1.06 billion, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a profit of $1.96 per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

The bank’s profits were buoyed by its decision to take down $2.4 billion of loss reserves it had built during the pandemic for expected losses that have not materialized. A year ago, it had added $5.9 billion to its loss reserves.

Revenue plunged 12%, loans were down 3% and expenses rose 7%.

Jane Fraser, who became CEO earlier this year, is trying to turn around Citigroup, which has been crippled for years by poor risk and control systems.

The 7% rise in expenses was led by spending to improve those systems to comply with demands from regulators. The size of the increase suggested that the bank might miss its estimate from April that expenses for the full-year would increase only 2% to 3%.

Expenses are a particular concern for Citigroup investors as the bank has been unable to say how much money and time it will take to meet the requirements of regulators and fix its systems.

The expenses are part of what Fraser has called the “transformation” of Citigroup and include technology improvements that she expects will ultimately bring down costs.

Revenue from fixed income trading, a strong suit for Citigroup, slumped 43% from a year earlier when trading in global financial markets soared to record levels on volatility in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, both JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs reported big declines in bond trading revenue.

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