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Citigroup Company Information:
Who do I love? Well, duh... It's totally Citigroup (NYSE: C), silly! Citigroup is the hottest boy band to hit the airwaves since the Backstreet Boys. It doesn't matter whether they're kickin' a new number like CitiFinancial or earnin' it the old-fashioned way with Salomon Smith Barney, you know these boys is dope.
Citigroup is led by the gorgeous trio of strappin' Sandy Weill, jammin' John Reed, and to-die-for former Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin. Can I just say that these three are, like, totally cuter than Hanson? Sandy is a stud with a long track record of growing the company through takeovers. He started a brokerage in 1960 with three partners and through 15 acquisitions built it into Shearson Loeb Rhodes, the second-largest brokerage in the U.S. when it was acquired by American Express in 1984. Ten years later, Sandy would buy Shearson back and merge it with Smith Barney, tying the two together under the Primerica umbrella. Speaking of umbrellas, this hotshot then bought Travelers Insurance, securing not only a top-tier insurance company but also a cool logo for his financial empire.
In 1998, Weill's Travelers Group then hooked up with John Reed's Citibank to form the totally turned-out Citigroup. With Sandy's deal-making skillz and John's technical savvy, eagle-eye for operating efficiencies, and velvety voice, this is a combo that can't be beat. Just when you thought the office of the Chairman couldn't get any cooler, this year saw the addition of former Treasury Secretary and come-hither crooner Bob Rubin. Zowee!
Not only does Citigroup have a totally hot crew now, but Citibank has been fronted by a bunch of really hot guys over the years. The Citibank site has a totally cool timeline of Citihistory. It's amazing all the cool facts you can learn about Citibank's history. Like, did you know that super-cute Moses Taylor was the Treasurer and a Director of the New York, Newfoundland and London Electric Telegraph Company in the mid-1800s? The telegraph brought about a technological shift that profoundly changed the way banks did business, and Citibank was right on top of it. (For more on the story of the telegraph, check out The Victorian Internet.)
John Reed's deep-thinking predecessor Walter Wriston was no slouch in the banking technology arena, either. He pushed Citibank to pioneer a little something called the ATM. I think we should all stop for a moment of silence to thank Walter for his contribution to malls everywhere. Beyond his technical chops, he's really brainy. Listen to this: "Information about money is as important as money itself." Is he totally smart, or what? Citigroup is really lucky to have such cool influences in their past.
Now that you see how cool Citigroup has been in the past, you can imagine that they aren't a group to let a hot new trend pass them by. Everyone knows that the new now thing is the Internet, and Citigroup has developed some kickin' online services. Of particular note is Citibank's site, which offers lots of consumer services including online banking, stock trading, and credit card account management. They also offer a bunch of business services, most notably bizzed.com, which offers supercool resources for small businesses. The coolest thing is that they can offer these online services to a huge number of existing customers, without having to spend exorbitantly to get people to try their services.
Now I know you're saying, "Jeez... these guys are just another boy band, frontin' wit' pretty faces, a technological clue, and not much else." Well, in case you've been living on another planet, let me tell you that Citigroup is for real -- they're the largest integrated financial services company in the world. Did I say, "The World"? Oh, yeah, that's right, girlfriend! With operations in 100 countries, Citigroup has that cosmopolitan sound that makes you get down. They're even topping the charts in Asia again, following last year's, like, totally embarrassing release of Girl, My Adept Use of Technology Will Result in Both Considerable Cost Savings and Exceptionally High Levels of Customer Service, a song which not only horrified parents but also gave the tiger currencies a beating.
Oh mah gah! Can you even believe that Citibank has over 49 million credit-card carrying fans worldwide? Last year, their incredible Charging Up A Storm world tour drew fans from Hong Kong to Argentina to Poland (and they know how to get down in Poland.) Who could forget the sold-out crowds swooning as they ran up huge balances and paid hefty interest rates month after month after month? Citigroup's card division was so hot in 1999 that they saw a 45% increase in core income for that unit over 1998. This sweet gain was the result of increased revenue with relatively fixed expenses. Citigroup's credit card business helps millions of people shop every day... it's like they have a higher calling.
Citigroup's return on equity for 1999 was a hunky 22.7%. The company earned 9.95 billion dollars last year, which translates to earnings per share of $2.85. This puts the price-to-earnings ratio in the neighborhood of 20, which is totally exciting for a company that not only rakes in a hefty revenue stream but also a solid foot in the door to the online world. The consensus estimate predicts earnings will only grow by 13% per year for the next two years, but bigger fans are predicting that Citigroup can do better than that, growing at 16% for the next couple years. With the sweet harmony that's coming out of the office of the Chairman these days, it wouldn't be too surprising if Citigroup, well, surprised us.
Anyway, you can always download the latest dish on Citigroup by visiting http://www.citigroup.com/. It's Citiriffic! They have some great financial data available in Excel format, there are good descriptions of Citigroup's lines of business, and a totally cool timeline of Citibank information, but we wish there were more pinups of the Co-Chairmen and interviews with those dreamboat directors.
With a rich history of technological innovation and self-assured financial savvy, Citigroup is definitely a Stock to Love. Oh, yeah, John and Sandy looked totally cute on the cover of Business Week. Take that,'NSYNC!
Trades on the NYSE under symbol C
Citigroup is a Motley Fool NOW 50 Index Stock
Other Related Links:
"Acquisitive Citigroup Buys Schroders" -- 1/18/00
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Citigroup Company Information:
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