By David Henry
NEW YORK – Bank analysts offered downbeat assessments on Thursday of the timeline Citigroup Inc laid out this week for lifting profits and some said the risk of losses in Russia could reduce its stock repurchases this year.
Citi shares were down 3% in Thursday afternoon trading while banks stocks in the S&P 500 were down 0.5%.
On Wednesday, new Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser led the bank’s first investor day in five years and spelled out details of its biggest restructuring since the financial crisis.
Fraser, citing a key profitability measure, said Citi would deliver a return on tangible common equity of 11% to 12% in three to five years, which would be better than recent levels of around 10% but less than big bank peers producing upwards of 15%.
The target is “underwhelming” and the presentation left unclear why Citi expected “such tepid” results from its strategy when the bank assumed a favorable economy, JPMorgan analyst Vivek Juneja said in a note to clients.
“This raises the question of whether Citi’s business mix needs more significant changes,” Juneja wrote.
Fraser had said she plans no additions to Citigroup’s new strategy which includes fixing long-neglected risk and control systems and exiting 14 consumer banking businesses outside of the United States.
The bank could have to write off nearly half of its $9.8 billion Russian exposure under the worst-case scenario, Chief Financial Officer Mark Mason warned Wednesday.
Citing “the prolonged outlook for sub-par returns” and “near-term risks” to buy-backs, analyst David Konrad of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods downgraded the stock to “market perform” even though it is cheap because it trades for only three-fourths of its book value.
Fraser said she was “very positive about the response” to the conference in a CNBC interview Thursday.
(Reporting by David Henry in New York; Editing by Matt Scuffham, Alexandra Hudson)