Chillin' out till it needs to be funded
Citigroup has been garnering investor interest amid optimism on Wall Street that the worst is over for the beleaguered banking company.
Citi shares have been pounded in the past two years, falling to around $3 from $55 because of heavy losses and a huge increase in its shares outstanding as a result of a $58 billion preferred-stock exchange offer designed to shore up the company's equity capital base.
Citi stock is down 50% this year alone, while J.P. Morgan Chase shares have risen 20%, to a recent $38, and Goldman Sachs has surged 90%, to a recent $162.
The Worst Is Past
The bullish case for Citi is that it has put concerns to rest about its viability and capital adequacy.
And, based on tangible book value, a conservative measure of shareholder equity, its stock looks inexpensive. (Book value is the value at which assets are carried on a company's balance sheet — or the value of a company if it sold off all its tangible holdings.)
Citi has been trading at about 70% of its book value of $4.30 a share, pending completion of the preferred exchange offer that probably will boost its share count to 23 billion from the current 5.5 billion.
In contrast, J.P. Morgan and Goldman fetch about 1.6 times tangible book; Wells Fargo commands twice its book value.
“Citi is the one stone that investors haven't turned over,” says John McDonald, a banking analyst at Sanford Bernstein who carries a price target of $4 on Citi shares.