CIT Group Sale Finally to Happen?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- CIT Group (CIT) looks increasingly like a candidate to sell itself following first quarter results that fell short of expectations, according to a report published Tuesday from Sterne Agee analyst Henry Coffey.

CIT earned $0.55 per share versus a consensus of $0.87. Analysts cited a range of factors for the miss.

Coffey pointed to weakness in the leasing portfolio as well as trends in North American corporate finance.

Janney Capital Markets analyst Sameer Gokhale cited "lower non-interest income, higher interest expense, higher operating expenses, higher depreciation and higher provisions than we had forecast" in his report.

Oppenheimer's Chris Kotowski wrote revenues were weak "pretty much across the board."

A sale of CIT has been discussed ever since it emerged from bankruptcy in December 2009. The original rationale was that combining with a bank would allow the lender to bring down its borrowing costs, since it temporarily barred from taking on deposits. While CIT regained permission from regulators to collect deposits, the lender's "cost of funds outside of the bank are still high compared to most bank peers," according to Coffey's report, which contends a sale looks sensible at the moment given the pace of the turnaround.

"The business is within 6-12 months of being optimized, but still 1-2 years away from generating ROEs (return on equity) above targeted levels (10%). The quicker solution would be to sell the institution, a step that might begin to make increasing sense to the board," Coffey writes.

CIT shares were lower by 6.68% to $43.17 in midday trading.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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