Shares of Citigroup Inc. (C) rose in premarket trading Friday after receiving an upgrade recommendation from a Jefferies analyst, who cited strong growth in the bank's U.S. credit card portfolio as well as in its Latin American operations.
In a research note to clients, Jefferies analyst Kenneth Usdin said he was upgrading Citigroup's stock to buy from hold thanks to positive results stemming from its revenue-boosting efforts this year, as well growth in its Latin America business.
Specifically, Usdin said he expects the bank will see improving revenue growth in U.S.-branded credit cards "as customer mix improves and past headwinds abate." What's more, "after a few years of heavy investments" the firm's Mexican banking operations will deliver better returns.
Usdin pointed to a recent meeting with Citigroup's Latin American head, who indicated that "platform upgrades helping efficiency, new digital branches/ATMs offering better self-service options, and more partnering with external investments/insurance providers" were all helping drive growth.
Citigroup stock was up 1% in premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange, gaining 64 cents to $64.96 after ending the day Thursday at $64.32. Jefferies now has a $73 price target on the stock vs. its previous target of $64. The stock hit a 52-week low of $48.42 just before the Christmas holiday.