The latest moves from giant funds are in, and one with $14 billion under its control amassed a nearly $100 million position in Citigroup (NYSE: C ) during the first quarter of this year.
With the SEC filings officially in, Third Point, a hedge fund run by acclaimed investor Daniel Loeb -- worth an estimated $2.2 billion -- logged a number of big changes. And one of its moves included its purchase of 2 million shares worth of Citigroup.
The surprising buy
While Loeb has had countless successes -- his fund returned an estimated $1.4 billion to shareholders last year -- the purchase of Citigroup is a touch surprising.
Everything started off just fine, as Citigroup's full year 2013 results, reported in January, were definitely on the rebound, as it saw its operating net income rise by 15% over 2012. CEO Michael Corbat noted this was its "highest amount of net income since before the financial crisis."
Corbat even concluded his remarks by saying Citigroup entered the year "as a strong and stable institution that is committed to achieving our 2015 financial targets and our objective of returning capital to our shareholders."
The troubling trend
But 2014 has been anything but "strong and stable" for the bank. Just six weeks after its earnings were announced, Citigroup had to revise its 2013 pre-tax income down by $360 million as a result of fraud from its unit in Mexico.
And less than one month after that troubling news, investors learned in March that Citigroup had its plan to buy back $6.4 billion in shares and raise its dividend from $0.01 to $0.05 rejected by the Federal Reserve. It should come as no surprise, Corbat said, that Citigroup was "deeply disappointed" as a result, and the stock fell by more than 5% the day of the announcement.
Although it seemed to rebound by reporting solid first-quarter results in April, which beat analyst expectations, a deeper dive revealed its actual operating earnings left something to be desired. And this is to say nothing of the news this week that it -- along with other banks -- could be facing another case of fraud, except this time in China and not Mexico.
But it's important to remember that the most recent news wouldn't have affected the decision of Daniel Loeb at Third Point, as its $95 million holding of Citigroup would've been purchased before the end of March.
The reason for the big buy
While we can't say for certain exactly why Third Point amassed its stake in Citigroup, we do know it suggests it's guided by an "event-driven investment strategy." Perhaps it felt the turmoil through the first three months of the year -- Citigroup watched its stock fall nearly 15% from when it peaked in the middle of January to the end of March -- opened an opportunity.
Citigroup currently still trades at a compelling value, as its price to tangible book value stands at just 0.9 -- mean the market thinks it's worth less than the value of its assets minus its liabilities -- but it still has many questions swirling about it.
Knowing the turmoil for Citigroup has only continued since April began, it'll be interesting to see what Loeb has done with it once the next filing has rolled in.
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