Why Citigroup Is Climbing High This Week

On the last day of trading, shares in Citigroup (NYSE: C  ) are up 3.52% on the week. All the big banks are seeing a strong bounce from last week's horror show, but Citi might have a little extra going for itself on top of that.

Tale of the tickers
But first, here's where Citi's peers are ending up:

  • Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) is up a big 5.97%.
  • JPMorgan Chase is up an extraordinarily healthy 3.34%.
  • Wells Fargo is up a very healthy 2.89%.

I'm doing this for your own good
As mentioned earlier this week, last Wednesday's first-quarter earnings report for B of A sent all of the big four banks into a dive, as well as the broader market: This because B of A missed Wall Street earnings expectations by $0.02.

Citi had a great quarter, and investors shouldn't have let themselves get caught up in B of A's stampeding herd, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Citi investors had other reasons to be cheery this week, though.

This past Wednesday was Citi's annual shareholder meeting, and CEO Michael Corbat's first since he took the reins last October, after Vikram Pandit was tossed to the curb. At the meeting, Corbat courageously held his ground in the face of investor pressure to wind down Citi Holdings more quickly.

Citi Holdings is Citigroup's "bad bank," spun off in the wake of the financial crisis to hold toxic assets and newly determined non-core lines of business. But the bad bank's assets are still on Citigroup's main balance sheet, creating a drag on earnings. Like a stern but loving parent, Corbat told the assembled: "It makes no sense ... to destroy our capital simply for the sake of speed."

This is a smart, thoughtful way to approach winding down toxic or unwanted assets, and it's similar to how JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon approached the winding down of the London Whale's derivatives positions last year. Even though investors want fast results, I think in the end they thanked Corbat, at least in part, with a strong stock performance this week.

Corbat and company also saw their 2012 pay packages approved this year, with a 90% vote. Now that's a mandate. This in stark contrast to last year's pay-package rejection, when Pandit was in charge. I think Citi investors remembered they have it good right now, and rewarded their favorite bank.

Foolish bottom line
You can thank a general bounce back and some standing-strong on Michael Corbat's part for Citi's big week. You can also use these last two weeks as a reminder of how fickle the market can be in the short term, which is why Foolish investors are always focused on the long term.

Looking for in-depth analysis on Citi? If so, look no further than our new premium report on the superbank. In it, Matt Koppenheffer -- The Motley Fool's senior banking analyst -- will fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Citigroup.

He'll also clue you in on what areas investors need to watch going forward. For instant access to Matt's personal take on Citi, simply click here now.


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