NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C) was among the top performers on the financial sector Thursday, with shares extending a six-session rally that has pushed the stock higher by almost 19%. Citigroup's advance came as CEO Vikram Pandit presented at an investor conference Thursday. The Financial Times reports that Pandit will raise the prospect of the bank earning as much as $20 billion from its core Citicorp business by the end of 2012.
The FT arrived at the $20 billion figure by taking its expectation that Pandit would say Citicorp could earn a yearly return of 1.25% or more on its assets, and factoring that projection in with the current asset total of $1.3 trillion for the unit and a previously disclosed estimate that Citicorp would be able to grow its assets by 5% per year. Citigroup rallied earlier this week on positive comments from influential hedge fund manager Bruce Berkowitz and debt research firm CreditSights, as well as a strong reception for an offering of $2 billion worth of trust-preferred securities. Citigroup shares were lately up 12 cents, or 3.2%, to $4.08. Among other U.S. bank stocks, Bank of America ( BAC) traded higher after CEO Brian Moynihan said on Wednesday that the bank is looking to sell off more of its "lazier" assets. Instead, Bank of America will reverse its growth strategy by focusing instead on the most profitable members of its customer base. "That's the operating model: Serve consumers, companies, investors, user franchise, and get the most out of the middle," Moynihan told investors at a financial services industry conference sponsored by Citigroup. On Wednesday, Bank of America said it will eliminate overdraft fees on purchases made with debit cards. Customers, however, will be denied from making purchases if they have insufficient funds in their accounts. Bank of America shares were up 0.4% to $17.17. Shares of American International Group ( AIG) continued to trade higher, rising 2% to $36.95. On Wednesday, a CNBC commentator attributed the insurer's near 50% surge over the last five sessions to a short-squeeze, as 91.5% of AIG stock available for shorting has been borrowed as of yesterday.
Among other winners of the financial sector Thursday, Fannie Mae ( FNM) gained 0.9% to $1.11, Wells Fargo ( WFC) was up 0.3% to $29.67, and Goldman Sachs ( GS) tacked on 0.1% to $172.11. On the downside, Freddie Mac ( FRE) shares slipped 0.8% to $1.30, Morgan Stanley ( MS) was down 0.5% to $29.82, and JPMorgan Chase ( JPM) slipped 0.1% to $42.90. -- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston. Follow Robert Holmes on Twitter and become a fan of TheStreet.com on Facebook.