Citigroup's 1Q profit rises, but revenue slips

Citigroup Inc. said Monday its first-quarter profit rose 2% from a year ago.

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Quarterly profit was $4.710 billion. Per-share earnings were $1.87 a share. Analysts polled by Refinitiv had expected $1.80 a share.

Revenue at the bank was $18.576 billion, down 2% from $18.872 billion a year ago. Analysts expected $18.634 billion.

Citigroup, like its large rivals, is aiming to bounce back from a tough fourth quarter. Its vast trading unit has been struggling in unfavorable market conditions, adding a fresh challenge for the bank’s plan to meet a series of aggressive financial goals over the next two years.

First-quarter trading revenue at Citigroup fell 5% to $4.3 billion. Citigroup and other banks have warned that client activity in early 2019 still hasn’t rebounded after evaporating at the end of last year.

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CCITIGROUP INC.69.74+0.14+0.20%

But Citigroup did better than rivals. Trading at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. was both down more than 17% from a year ago.

To account up for this revenue pressure and to stay on track to meet its return targets, Citigroup has been cutting expenses. The bank’s expenses were $10.584 billion for the first quarter, down 3% from a year ago.

Quarterly revenue for the global consumer bank was up slightly, to $8.451 billion. Excluding the impact of the sale of a portfolio of co-brand credit-card loans last year, U.S. consumer-banking revenue was up 4% from a year earlier.

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Citigroup is counting on a major turnaround in its consumer business, particularly U.S. credit cards and retail banking, to boost its overall returns. For the quarter, Citigroup produced a return on tangible common equity of 11.9%. The bank has targeted a return of 12% for 2019.

Citi has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.