CHICAGO - preferred stock received a rating of A-minus from Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. The issue was priced with a dividend rate of 7.75% and is noncallable for five years. The rating reflects Citicorp's efforts to strengthen its balance sheet, allowing management to focus on allocating resources throughout the global franchise, said Duff & Phelps. The Chicago-based rating agency also cited Citicorp's improved profitability and positive outlook for profitability. Reported profitability has benefited from lower asset quality charges and tax benefits, while core operating earnings have also improved and currently exceed those of the bank's peers, the rating agency said. Balance sheet strengthening continued to be a dominant theme at Citicorp, Duff & Phelps added. Analysts generally expected upgrades for Citicorp from various rating agencies.

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