Citigroup's ( C) stock has spent 2009 like an old carnival game: Every time it pops above $4, it is beaten back into its hole again.

Shares of the big financial company, which were falling 13 cents to $2.66 Tuesday, have spent much of the past four months hovering in the $3-range. The stock fell from more than $7 a share at the start of the year to a closing low of $1.02 on March 5, before recovering somewhat along with the wider market. The stock has risen above $4 only four times since mid-January, getting quickly knocked back into its familiar $3 territory each time.

The Citigroup Smackdown!

Since equities hit their 2009 lows in early March, most other financial institutions have fared much better. JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) shares, which slumped to $15.88 on March 6, have risen back into the mid-$30's in recent weeks. Even Bank of America ( BAC), which fell to $3.14 on March 6, has seen its shares rebound to roughly $12 a share recently, despite continued pressure from the federal government to raise money and revamp its board of directors.

Even on Friday, when Citi reported a surprise second-quarter profit of $4.27 billion, or 49 cents a share, the stock closed down a penny to $3.02.

Analysts had expected Citi, which has been bailed out by the U.S. government twice, to post a loss for the three months ending June 30 and indeed the company would have, if not for its early completion of the joint venture between Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley ( MS), resulting in an $11.1 billion pre-tax gain ($6.7 billion after taxes).

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