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Citi's profits plunged 27% — Here's why investors don't mind today

Sam Ro
Managing Editor

Citi (C) is the fourth and final big bank to release its Q1 financial results. And like its peers JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Bank of America (BAC), and Wells Fargo (WFC), Citi reported a big drop in earnings.

But it also confirmed that things weren't disastrously worse than what analysts were forecasting.

Citi's revenue fell 11% year-over-year to $17.6 billion. Meanwhile, net income plunged 27% to $3.5 billion or $1.10 per share. That bottom line beat the $1.05 expected by analysts.

In other words, bad news was expected and largely priced into the stock. So, investors probably won't mind today because Citi beat dismal expectations.

It's a two-sided story

All of the banks on Wall Street have seen business dry up due to volatile financial market conditions. Investment banking revenue plunged 27% to just $875 million. Meanwhile, Citi's bond trading and equities trading businesses fell 11% and 19%, respectively, to $3.0 billion and $706 million.

On the consumer side of things, things are a bit brighter thanks to the economy, which is fueling job growth. This as led to high deposits and more loans.

This two-sided story has dominated the banking industry's earnings announcements so far this season.

"While our market-sensitive products clearly suffered from weak investor sentiment during the quarter, we continued to make progress in several key areas," CEO Michael Corbat said. "We grew loans and deposits in our core businesses, reduced our expenses while absorbing a significant repositioning charge, utilized additional Deferred Tax Assets, and generated capital in excess of what we returned to our shareholders."

Also like its peers, Citi is seeing loans to energy companies sour thanks to plunging oil prices. However, the pace of deterioration has moderated as prices have stabilzed somewhat.

"North America Global Consumer Banking cost of credit increased 17% to $1.0 billion," management said. "The net loan loss reserve build in the first quarter 2016 was $80 million, compared to a net loan loss reserve release of $98 million in the prior year period, reflecting the deterioration of energy-related commercial loans and continued stabilization of consumer credit."

Citi shares are up 2% in pre-market trading.

Sam Ro is managing editor at Yahoo Finance

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