NEW YORK (
heightened international focus already looks like a smart move.
The bank and CEO Vikram Pandit took another step forward Friday as Citigroup's
topped Wall Street expectations for a second quarter in a row. Although the bottom-line results were below the bank's performance in both the first quarter and year-ago period, Citigroup still posted a healthy plus-80% beat because of not only lower credit costs but strong earnings from abroad.
And CFO John Gerspach reiterated that Citigroup expects the majority of its future growth to come from beyond U.S. borders on the bank's conference call following the report.
"I think you see that clearly portrayed in our results this quarter," he said on the call. "Asia and Latin America contribute something less than 40% of revenue for Citicorp and yet generated more than 50% of net income."
The business split is encouraging given the worries of late about the U.S. economy falling into a double-dip recession as well as the unfolding impact of financial reform.
Against that backdrop, Citigroup's global positioning bodes well for the recovering company, and the stock could take off once the U.S. Treasury fully sells out its stake in the bank and it gets a few more quarters of improved credit quality under its belt.
Citigroup's money-center rivals
are not nearly as well positioned outside the United States.
For example, JPMorgan Chase does have institutional businesses outside the U.S., and is clearly looking to bolster that position (CEO Jamie Dimon recently moved veteran Heidi Miller into a new position as the head of its international businesses). But so far it has no plans to expand its retail business abroad.
And Bank of America, which is required to pare down its expansive businesses as part of its agreement to repay bailout funds, has been selling international assets of late, not expanding.
Still Citigroup has its work cut out for it.
When asked on the media call about loan demand, Gerspach said it was touch and go.
"Overseas from a consumer
perspective, we see some demand for loans," Gerspach said, calling loan demand in Asia "spotty" and referring to conditions in the U.S. as "flattish."
"On the corporate side it's pretty flat everywhere," he added. "We have a lot of renewals of facilities, but it's not as though we've got a lot of new drawdowns in borrowing."
Citigroup shares were down 15 cents to $4.01 in recent action, a decline of 3.7%. Volume was above 400 million at midday.
Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.