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Since I started advocating
, using a $6 target -- 1.5 times times book value -- I have seen two kinds of major objections to the idea of buying this stock (and my email is running 10 to one against buying it, which means there are lot more people off board than on!).
The first is that FDIC Chair Sheila Bair could come in tomorrow and take it over and fire Vikram Pandit and the top team. That would not be good, because Pandit may not have worked with lightning speed, but he's a good man who is doing a lot to get rid of the bad and harvest the good. So is Ned Kelly, his terrific partner in the endeavor, one of those guys who has experience everywhere and knows his way around the law and banking. He's kind of like Bob Rubin
Bob Rubin went to Citigroup and became someone else, like the Man With Two Brains or something.
Bair could do anything. She's a populist regulator out to teach the big-city bankers a lesson, and she could still do a world of hurt against Citigroup. But she also responds to the stock price. She will see Citigroup's stock go up, and she won't want to screw it up, and she will focus on another bank.
I think she is being nullified by the run, so the run is a virtuous circle.
The other, far more common rap against Citigroup is its inability to retain good people. When 23 of the top 25 people have stayed, though, despite the ban on high salaries, doesn't that say something? Oh, but people say the lower ranks are abandoning them like mad.
To which I say, where are they going? There are really only three places they could go:
. That's the same thing when Pandit goes to recruit people at the best schools. He gets more than his fair share of good talent.
And, don't forget, 50% of the hires are
for America. We just tend to think of it as a domestic bank, but it never shed its overseas operations and has fabulous worldwide back-office capacity that is used by companies all around the globe. This is not a company that is just about New York.
So, I say, stop worrying. Hope it comes in. Stop hating it. It ain't worth it. The objections don't add up.
Someone tell the buyers of
that there is no back-to-school season, as per the
Negative Street Journal
. Look at those fly. And when is Murdoch going to start firing the negativists? What is he doing? When he is going to Fox News the place?
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