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Analysts may not be able to peer into the future any better than you or I can, but their opinions about stocks are nevertheless valuable -- studying companies, after all, is what they're paid to do. I'm interested here in analysts' take on Citigroup (NYSE:C), the nation's fourth biggest bank by assets.

Citigroup is a buy, say analysts

Generally speaking, analysts are bullish on the New York City-based bank. Of the 30 analysts surveyed by Yahoo! Finance that track Citigroup, eight rate it a strong buy and 15 rate it a buy. That leaves seven hold recommendations. And, notably, no analysts say that investors should sell shares of Citigroup.

The bullish perspective on Citigroup similarly shines through if you aggregate these recommendations, as Yahoo! Finance does with its recommendation rating scale. The lower the score, the higher the rating, and vice versa:

Yahoo! Finance Recommendation Rating


Strong buy








Strong sell


Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

Citigroup's score is 2.0, meaning that the consensus among analysts tracked by Yahoo! Finance is that the bank's shares are a solid buy.

This ranks Citigroup near the top of its peer group. While it's slightly behind Bank of America, which has a recommendation rating of 1.9, Citi narrowly out-touches JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, which have recommendation ratings of 2.1 and 2.4, respectively.

In July, for example, Germany-based investment bank Berenberg initiated coverage of Citigroup with a buy recommendation. Berenberg's thesis is based in part on Citi's opportunity to continue increasing the amount of capital it returns to shareholders.

Citigroup's price target

Given analysts' generally favorable opinion of Citigroup stock, it will probably come as no surprise that they expect its stock price to head higher. The average analyst price target for Citigroup's stock is $54.19. That implies 14% upside, which is pretty good when you consider that stocks in general are flirting with all-time highs.


Price Targets for Citigroup Stock







Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

It's important to appreciate, of course, that this isn't etched in stone. Like I noted at the beginning, analysts can't predict the future. Their price targets are educated guesses. Additionally, there's a range of forecasts when it comes to Citigroup's stock. The highest is $66 per share, while the lowest is $44 a share.

At the same time, however, it's easy to see why analysts think Citigroup's stock is going higher. Namely, its shares trade for a 35% discount to book value. This is cheap, and destined to improve, as a bank like Citigroup under normal circumstances will trade for well in excess of book value.

Put all of this together and it's fair to say that analysts think Citigroup's stock is a bargain right now.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.