Citigroup posted a profit of US$2.5 billion ($3.9 billion) for the first quarter, tumbling by almost half year-on-year, with its chief declaring the COVID-19 pandemic had knocked the business about.
The US company recorded total revenues for the period of US$20.7 billion ($33 billion), up by 12 per cent from the first quarter in 2019.
But earnings were US$1.05 ($1.67) per diluted share, down 44 per cent from US$1.87 ($2.98) the year before.
Citi pointed to higher revenues in fixed income and equity markets for its raised revenue figure, but heightened loan loss reserves and an amplified total cost of credit of US$7 billion ($11.1 billion) dragged its net income. The year before, the total had been US$1.9 billion ($3 billion).
In the consumer banking business, the total cost of credit was US$4.8 billion ($7.6 billion), compared to US$1.9 billion ($3 billion) a year prior.
Group chief executive Michael Corbat commented coronavirus had “significantly impacted” Citi’s earnings.
“We managed our expenses with discipline and had good revenue performance as the economic shocks caused by the pandemic weren’t felt until late in the quarter,” Mr Corbat said.
”However, the deteriorating economic outlook and the transition to the new Current Expected Credit Loss standard (CECL) caused us to build significant loan loss reserves.”
The global consumer banking segment produced a loss of US$754 million ($1.2 billion), a dramatic change from its US$1.3 billion ($2 billion) profit the year before.
Its revenues stayed somewhat stagnant, inclining by 1 per cent year-on-year to US$8.1 billion ($12.9 billion). Citi cited lower revenues in the Asian business, which had seen its sales fall by 4 per cent to US$1.7 billion ($2.7 billion) – a reflection of how the early pandemic had dampened customer behaviour.
Similarly the Latin American consumer bank suffered a revenue fall of 6 per cent during the quarter, while the North American business managed an uptick of 4 per cent.
Investment assets under management in the consumer business had decreased by 10 per cent year-on-year, to US$145 million ($231.1 million).
Meanwhile the institutional clients group made a net income of US$3.6 billion ($5.7 billion), up by 7 per cent, with its product revenues rising by 14 per cent to US$11.6 billion ($18.4 billion).
Citi’s operating expenses of $10.6 billion ($16.8 billion) in the first quarter were largely consistent with the year before, with the company stating continued investments in the franchise, higher compensation and volume-related expenses were offset by productivity savings and the wind-down of legacy assets.
Mr Corbat added the group is well prepared for the crisis in terms of capital.
“All of the work we have done in recent years has put us in a very strong position from a capital, liquidity and balance sheet perspective,” he said.
“While no one knows the severity or longevity of the virus’ impact on the global economy, we have the resources we need to serve our clients without jeopardising our safety and soundness.”
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].