NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- CIT Group ( CIT)lost $447 million in the first quarter as Chairman and CEO John Thain cited progress in turning around the troubled lender that emerged from bankruptcy in Dec. 2009. However, asked on a conference call Tuesday morning whether 2014 might be "in the realm of possibility" for the company to reach "normalized" earnings, Thain declined to offer any assurances.
CIT CEO John Thain won't "provide forward advice or guidance" on when earnings may return to normal.
"We don't provide forward advice or guidance so we've never really said specifically about any one year but as you can see this is a gradual trend where as we get rid of the high cost debt, as we originate new assets, as we put more assets in the bank, the returns get cleaner and cleaner," said Thain, a former Goldman Sachs ( GS) executive who got credit for turning around NYSE Group ( NYX) and rescuing Merrill Lynch but lost credibility after spending lavishly on office furniture. The $2.22 per share loss included $620 million in debt refinancing charges. That served to "muddle" the earnings picture, which nonetheless was "just okay," according to a report from Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst Kenneth Bruce. Analysts had been expecting a loss of $1.50, according to a report from Nomura Securities' Bill Carcache, which he said would have been closer to $1.84 if "stale" estimates had been taken out. Carcache himself was looking for a loss of $2.02. The loss compares to a gain of $66 million, or $0.33 per share, in the first quarter of 2011. CIT has been working to shift its funding model to originate more loans out of its bank. It attracted $621 million in new deposits during the quarter, bringing the total to $1.1 billion. Still, Nomura's Carcache had been looking for deposit growth of roughly $1.9 billion, and financing and leasing assets were flat versus the previous quarter, he wrote. CIT shares were down 1.20% to $38.72 a few minutes after the market open on Tuesday. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York. Follow this writer on Twitter.