Citigroup's earnings jump 21 percent, helped by lower expenses, beating estimates

Citigroup said its first-quarter net income rose 21 percent as the company continued to slim down its operations and control expenses.

The bank earned $4.8 billion, or $1.51 share, in the first three months of the year. That compared with $3.9 billion, or $1.23, in the same period a year earlier. Revenue was $19.74 billion down slightly from $20.21 billion a year earlier.

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The bank was able to cut its expenses and legal costs across the firm in the quarter, which more than offset the decline in revenues. Citi's expenses were $10.9 billion in the quarter, down from $12.2 billion a year earlier. Legal expenses were $387 million, down from $945 million.

Citi's results beat Wall Street estimates, with analysts polled by FactSet forecasting earnings per share of $1.40.