Citi Boosts Stock Buyback 20% as Corbat Pushes for Higher Returns

The following article, originally published at 11:26 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, has been updated with analysts' comments and market data.

Citigroup  (C)   is boosting its stock buybacks 20% as CEO Michael Corbat works to drive higher returns while reshaping the lender after a financial-crisis bailout.

The New York bank received Federal Reserve approval to boost repurchases through June 30 by $1.75 billion, building on an $8.6 billion plan announced over the summer, the New York bank said in a statement. Coupled with a move to triple the company's quarterly dividend to 16 cents a share, the increase brings planned capital returns to $12.2 billion.

While additional buybacks will boost per-share earnings, "the more favorable development is that the Fed's approval for the increased capital return is a sign of confidence in Citigroup's ability to meet the Fed's high risk and government standards," Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst with brokerage Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said in a note to clients Tuesday. That's a turnaround from two years ago, when Citi failed the regulator's yearly stress test because of shortcomings in its capital-planning process, he said.

Citigroup has been paring high-risk and illiquid assets since taking a $45 billion government while working to boost both revenue and return on tangible equity, a key profitability measure on which it lags rivals like Wells Fargo  (WFC) and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) . The firm beat analysts' profit estimates last quarter, due to a surge in bond trading.

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