The shares closed the regular session at $5.08, gaining 14 cents, or almost 3%, as Wall Street got bullish about the banks ahead of their fiscal fourth-quarter reports. Portugal's successful bond sale and dividend buzz generated by a Wells Fargo analyst report and comments from
(JPM - Get Report) CEO Jamie Dimon about the bank's plans to eventually lift its payout also gave sentiment about the financial sector a boost.
As it is during normal market hours, Citigroup is typically the most active stock in the after-hours session. On Wednesday, nearly 26 million shares changed hands after the closing bell with the stock last quoted at $5.11, up 0.1%, according to Nasdaq.com. Volume in the regular session totaled more than 600 million, tops on the New York Stock Exchange.
Citigroup closed at $5 on Aug. 31, 2009 and despite a number of fleeting forays -- most recently on April 21, 2010 -- above $5 on an intraday basis since then, it hasn't able to hold above that level, which has debatable pyschological significance, until today.Expectations for fourth-quarter results are on the rise for the big banks, and JPMorgan is slated to kick things off with its report before Friday's opening bell. Citigroup's numbers are on tap for next Tuesday, Jan. 18. The current average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is for the bank to report earnings of 8 cents a share for the three months ended Dec. 31 on revenue of $20.4 billion. Citigroup has beat Wall Street expectations for three straight quarters, but the revenue estimate would represent a slight sequential decline from its total of $20.7 billion in the third quarter. At current levels, the stock is up roughly 40% in the past 52 weeks but analysts are still fairly bullish from here. Thirteen of the 22 analysts covering the shares are at either strong buy (4) or buy (9) with the remainder split between hold (7), underperform (1) and sell (1). The median 12-month price target of $5.50 has implied upside of 20%.