NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Citigroup (C) finally gave bullish investors something to cheer at the start of trading Monday. But investors on StockTwits.com cautioned that the celebration should be muted given how Citigroup delivered positive results.
The too-big-to-fail bank reported first quarter 2014 sales and earnings before the open. Citi beat consensus estimates, making it the most discussed stock on StockTwits.com Monday morning. Shares climbed 4% shortly after the open.
But most investors on StockTwits.com remained bearish on Citi. Cashtaggers argued Citi inflated earnings by releasing hundreds of millions from loan loss reserves meant to guard against defaults. As a result, it didn't really show that it had outperformed Wall Street's expectations, they said. Sentiment on the stock was 55% bearish right after the open.
Citi's core business was terrible this quarter (net income down 8%), but it 'beat' by pulling from the loss reserves cookie jar. Again. $C-- Joshua Brown (@reformedbroker) Apr. 14 at 08:42 AM
Citigroup reported $1.30 in earnings per share, excluding adjustments for the risk of default on credits and debts, on $20.1 billion in revenue. That beat consensus estimates of $1.16 in earnings per share on $19.38 billion in sales, according to estimates compiled by the Analyst Ratings Network.
It released $673 million from its loan loss reserves after net credit losses declined 15% from the prior quarter to $2.4 billion. The company said asset quality continued to improve. Non-accrual assets fell 19% year-over-year to $9 billion. Corporate non-accrual loans -- business loans that are not generating the stated interest due to nonpayment -- dropped 35% to $1.6 billion. Consumer non-accrual loans declined 14% to $7 billion.
Overall, revenue declined from the same period a year ago. The $20.1 billion figure was 1% lower than in the first quarter of 2013. Citigroup attributed the decline to the fixed-income markets segment of its business and lower U.S. mortgage refinancing activity.
Despite majority negative sentiment, many investors did see encouraging news in the release. They pointed out that, aside from the headline numbers, facets of the business outperformed analyst expectations.
At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.