Citigroup Shares Tumble as Credit-Card Revenue Falls Shy of Estimates

Citigroup Inc. (C)  shares fell Friday due to concerns about slowing revenue growth in its North American credit-card business, even as the U.S. bank reported a jump in second-quarter profit thanks to the expected windfall from President Donald Trump's tax cuts.

Net income rose 16% from a year earlier to $4.49 billion, the New York-based bank said Friday in a statement. Earnings per share were $1.63, beating the average analyst estimate of $1.56 in a FactSet survey.

"These results demonstrate good momentum across our franchise," Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said in the statement.

Profit climbed as the bank's effective tax rate fell to 24% from 32% a year earlier. But the big jump in the bottom line masked a much-smaller 5% growth in pretax profit, as expenses rose faster than revenue.

Investors and analysts focused on troubling trends in the credit-card business, where revenue of $4.76 billion was flat compared with a year earlier, and down 4% from the first quarter. At the same time, interest income from Citi-branded credit cards in North America slipped to 8.28% of average loans, from 8.4% in the first quarter and 8.61% a year earlier. And losses on the credit-card loans jumped by 8%.  

Citigroup's credit-card business gets outsize attention from investors, partly because the bank's network of retail branches is so much smaller than at competitors like JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) . 

JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank, said earlier Friday that net income rose 18% from the same period last year, also fueled by the tax cuts.

Ken Usdin, an analyst at the brokerage firm Jefferies, wrote in a note to clients that the North American branded credit-card business "continues to be a soft spot."   

Citigroup shares fell 2.2% to $67.01 in New York trading on Friday. Year-to-date, they're down about 10%.   

"Concerns still linger about long-term revenue growth in the company's cards business," Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at the brokerage firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, wrote in a report.  

Revenue from Citigroup's closely watched fixed-income trading division fell by 6% to $3.08 billion, while stock-trading revenue climbed 19% to $864 million. Investment-banking fees fell by 7% to $1.42 billion.

Citigroup and JPMorgan are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.