Citigroup Barely Breaks Even Because of $7 Billion Settlement; GoPro Slammed in Barron's Article

The three things you need to know on July 15.

Jul 14, 2014 at 11:00PM

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) popped 112 points as major banks begin reporting quarterly earnings. Let's take a quick look at what else happened Monday on the market.

1. Citigroup pays U.S. government $7 billion fine and announces earnings
That's $4 billion in the door and $7 billion out for Citigroup (NYSE:C), after it agreed on Monday to a huge settlement and reported quarterly earnings. Yes, both in one day. That's one tidal wave of cash slamming into another at Citibank, but the company ended as dry as Moses, with the stock rising 3%.

The first $7 billion announcement was that the bank agreed to pay a settlement to end investigations by the government that it knowingly misled and deceived investors in the run-up to the financial crisis. Citibank was packaging mortgages it knew were risky at best and told investors they were safe investments. Citi made billions in profits on this shady market-making business, investors got hosed when the housing bubble officially popped, and now it's time to pay.

Citigroup hugely low-balled the government in the first round of negotiations -- it offered to pay $363 million for its dirty mortgage history. In the end it paid $7 billion, so consider this one a win for the Justice Department. The bank recorded a $3.8 billion charge in the second quarter for the settlement, which wiped out nearly all earnings.

So why did Citi's stock rise? Earnings before the charge for the second quarter were almost $4 billion, way above what analysts expected. (The bank still made $181 million despite the fine.) Trading of bonds and stocks dropped only 12% and 26%, so the less-bad-than-estimated earnings sent the stock up big. Shareholders are impressed by today's bank and glad that ghosts of yesterday will haunt no more.

2. GoPro shares sink following bummer Barron's article
It's been an extreme few weeks for both the narcissistic skateboarding teenagers using GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) and the investors surfing GoPro stock. Shares of the mounted-camcorder company have surged 65% since the June IPO, giving GoPro a $4.8 billion value by market capitalization (the number of shares outstanding multiplied by the stock price).

So why the 5.15% price drop Monday? Basically, it boils down to one influential newspaper article. A morning piece in Barron's questioned all the love Wall Street has been doling out on the stock -- GoPro's wearable camera is cool, but isn't that technology likely to just end up in your smartphone sometime soon?

The takeaway is that GoPro owns 45% of the camcorder market, but that's because smartphones have been putting its competitors out of business. That perspective got investors thinking (and selling), since maybe GoPro shouldn't be valued at a huge 83 times its earnings from last year. (For context, Apple's valued at 16 times its earnings.)

3. Major merger among chocolate giants
If the surging cocoa prices you read about in MarketSnacks last week made you sad, we come bearing good news for sweet-toothed readers -- Swiss chocolate legend Lindt & Sprungli is dropping $1.4 billion like it's candy to buy made-in-America chocolatier Russell Stover. With Stover's $500 million in annual sales, the merger is projected to generate $1.5 billion annually by 2015.

The takeaway is that just because Stover is now Swiss-owned, you'll still be able to buy it as a last-minute gift while running through an airport. Lindt's made clear that it's committed to "continuity and local manufacturing." So Stover's Kansas City, Missouri, headquarters and 2,700 workers in four factories in two states (for now) won't be melting away. (By the way, Lindt boasts 9,000 workers in eight factories.)

As originally published


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