Shares of Citigroup (C 1.03%) fell nearly 24% during the first six months of 2022, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The bank struggled along with the broader sector but also ran into hiccups amid its multiyear transformation plan.
Since Jane Fraser took over as CEO of Citigroup in early 2021, the bank has been working on a multiyear transformation plan to correct regulatory issues, modernize parts of the bank, and try to boost returns, which have disappointed for years.
While the plan has promise, it has not come without issues. While exiting its consumer-banking operations in many international markets, Citigroup has had to take write-downs. In Russia, the bank is working to sell its consumer-banking operations but may not be able to because of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
At the bank's highly anticipated Investor Day in February, investors were not impressed when management promised a medium-term return on tangible common equity (ROTCE) of 11% to 12%, which is still far below the targets of its large-bank peers.
Most recently at the end of June, the Federal Reserve released the results of its annual stress testing, and Citigroup performed worse than expected, which means the bank will face higher regulatory capital requirements starting in 2023. This will make share repurchases for the remainder of 2022 difficult because Citigroup needs to build capital to reach its new capital requirements.
Investors sold stocks intensely in the first half of the year, so mistakes by individual companies were exacerbated. The market left little margin for error as it battled high inflation and prepared for a looming recession.
Citigroup currently trades at a huge discount to its tangible book value (TBV), or net worth, at just 58% of TBV. While some believe the stock is a value trap, I think management is finally heading in the right direction. The bank is heavily investing to fix regulatory issues and modernize its operations, while also investing in businesses that already perform well.
Selling the international consumer-banking operations, including in the bank's highly profitable Mexican subsidiary, Citibanamex, has been a messy process. But it should pay off by freeing up capital and potentially lowering Citigroup's regulatory capital requirements.
In the first quarter of the year, the longtime bank investors Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway took a new position in Citigroup for the first time since 2001, hinting that they too feel Citigroup is on the right path. This may be a multiyear story, but I do think Citigroup is a buy and has lots of upside ahead.