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.
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.
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.