Citigroup boosted profit more than analysts estimated after a drop in legal costs helped it cut expenses faster than revenue fell.
Third-quarter net income rose 51% to $4.29 billion, or $1.35 a share, from $2.84 billion, or 88 cents, a year earlier, the New York-based lender said Thursday. Earnings amounted to $1.31 a share excluding accounting adjustments, beating the $1.27 average estimate of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Chief Executive Officer Michael Corbat, striving to meet financial goals by the end of this year, has sold assets and closed branches to shave costs and focus on affluent consumers and multinational corporations. That helped the firm weather the third quarter’s global market turmoil, which hurt revenue and profits at peers including JPMorgan Chase.
“Citi is actually by some measures performing better than JPMorgan in terms of expense efficiency and capital,” David Hilder, an analyst at Drexel Hamilton LLC, said in an interview before results were reported.
Citigroup’s expenses fell 18% to $10.7 billion from a year earlier, while revenue slid 7.8% to $18.5 billion, excluding accounting adjustments. That is a bit less than the average estimate of $18.6 billion in a Bloomberg survey of 18 analysts.
Trading revenue declined 10% on a slump in earnings from fixed-income products, worse than the roughly 5% drop Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach signaled on Sept. 16. That total excludes a valuation adjustment in the equities business that was booked during the third quarter.
Cost cuts helped Bank of America boost net income to $4.51 billion from a year-earlier loss. While net income rose 22% to $6.8 billion at JPMorgan, earnings were short of analysts’ estimates, hurt by a slump in trading and mortgage-banking results.
Corbat has taken a scalpel to those areas of Citigroup he does not consider essential. In September, less than a year after touting Boston as one of seven major U.S. markets, the bank said it would close six branches there in January and another 11 in the surrounding area. In August, Corbat agreed to sell a hedge-fund administration business.
A planned disposal of the OneMain Financial subprime-lending unit hit a snag, with the acquirer, Springleaf Holdings, saying in August that the U.S. Department of Justice and some state attorneys general expressed concerns about the deal. Citi Holdings, the division housing the unit, reported an adjusted profit of $47 million in the quarter as assets shrank to $110 billion.
Profit at the institutional clients group fell 8.9% to an adjusted $2.27 billion. The unit houses the bank’s trading, corporate and investment-banking, private bank and transaction-services businesses. Profit in global consumer banking fell 11%to $1.67 billion.
Adjusted fixed-income trading revenue fell a16% to $2.58 billion, while equity-markets revenue rose 31% to $996 million. The equities figure included a $140 million positive valuation adjustment that partially offset a $175 million decline in the second quarter. Paco Ybarra oversees those businesses.
Citigroup still faces investigations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into its student-loan servicing practices, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said in August, and the Justice Department continues to probe anti-money-laundering controls at the company’s Banamex USA unit, as well as its Mexico arm.
The bank already paid $140 million to settle with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and California regulators over deficiencies in Banamex USA’s anti-money-laundering program. The firm has said it will shutter Banamex USA’s three branches.