Citigroup: Dog Days of August Losers

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Citigroup ( C) was the loser among the largest U.S. banks on Monday, with shares declining 1% to close at $50.90.

The broad indices ended mixed after a session of light trading volume, as investors looked ahead to economic announcements, including July retail sales on Tuesday, the Producer Price Index on Wednesday, Consumer Price Index on Thursday and housing starts on Friday. Investors are also looking to upcoming speeches from Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Dennis Lockhart and Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president James Bullard for additional clues on an expected tapering of monthly bond purchases by the central bank.

As part of the monetary stimulus policy known has "QE3," the Federal Reserve has been expanding its balance sheet with a net $85 billion per month in purchases of long-term bonds since last September.

The KBW Bank Index ( I:BKX) made up some earlier losses end with a slight decline to close at 65.16, with 14 of the 24 index components ending with declines. The index has risen 27% this year, following a 30% gain during 2012. The S&P 500 ( SPX.X) is up 18% year-to-date, after rising 13% last year.

According to BMO Capital Markets chief investment strategist Brian Belski, "all of the good news is more than fully reflected in current stocks prices." In a note on Friday, Belski added "Frankly, most investors want to validate higher prices tomorrow because they were higher today. When it comes to fundamentals, further multiple expansion and margin improvement are well saturated views."

" T he predominant sentiment is that multiple expansion can and will propel this market higher, while earnings growth will continue to be generated from margin improvement," Belski wrote. However, he believes stock price multiples to earnings estimates are not likely to expand significantly, "while profit margins are likely to decline."

"Fundamentals dictate a water break, and the market needs to take a sip," Belski added.


Shares of Citigroup have returned 29% this year, following a 51% return during 2012. The shares trade just below their reported June 30 tangible book value of $53.10, and for 9.1 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $5.57, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. The consensus 2013 EPS estimate is $4.94.

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