While Citigroup has the largest global reach amongst the major banks, this also means that Citigroup is highly weighted against the global economy. Not to mention, Citigroup still has a strong dependency on the housing recovery.
Among other reasons, these realities played a role in the bank failing the Federal Reserve stress test. As a consequence, the bank was denied its attempt to raise its quarterly dividend to 5 cents and institute a $6.4 billion stock buyback.
To add insult to injury, Bank of America (BAC), which has had similar (if not, greater) operational struggles, had its planned capital return proposal approved. For Citi, these (among other reasons) were cited as cause to avoid the stock ahead of the bank's first-quarter earnings report. But faithful shareholders were nonetheless rewarded.
Driven by management's diligent expense-controls, Citigroup posted $1.30 in earnings per share, which beat last year's mark by a penny and beat consensus estimates by more than 10%. While revenue of $20.1 billion was down 1% year over year, this was enough to match most estimates.
The revenue struggle, while still important, is not unique to Citigroup. Both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan suffered their own setbacks. This has been the result of a weak interest rate environment. In the case of Citigroup, the dip in revenue was driven mostly by a 3% decline at the bank's Citicorp division. Weakness in the the segment's Institutional Clients Group and Global Consumer Banking divisions was mostly to blame.