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Citi’s Q1 profit falls 32 percent on lower loans

NEW YORK — Citigroup’s first-quarter income fell 32 percent on lower revenue from investment banking and a decline in consumer loans. The bank was able to set aside fewer reserves for losses as more borrowers were able to keep up with their debt payments.

The New York bank said Monday that it earned $3 billion, or 10 cents per share, compared with $4.4 billion, or 15 cents a share in the first quarter of last year. The earnings were slightly higher than the 9 cents per share estimated by analysts surveyed by FactSet.

Revenue fell 22 percent to $19.7 billion.

“The environment has been challenging,” Citi CEO Vikram Pandit said in a conference call with analysts. Pandit promised to pay more dividends next year once the business stabilizes more.

Citi reinstated a dividend of a penny per share in the second quarter after getting clearance from the Federal Reserve. The bank, along with others, had cut dividends during the financial crisis to save cash. Citi was one of the worst hit banks and was bailed out by the government for $45 billion.

Citi’s stock edged up 4 cents to $4.46 even as the broader market fell sharply.

Citigroup Inc.’s income didn’t reflect big profits in its core businesses. The bank’s results got a lift from the release of $3.3 billion in reserves that had been set aside for losses. Citi released the funds as the economy improved and more of its credit card customers made payments on time. The bank set aside an additional $3.2 billion for future losses, down 63 percent from the same period a year ago.

Revenue from interest collected on consumer loans dropped 16 percent to $12.2 billion. The decline came because Citi has been writing fewer mortgages and selling off some of its credit card businesses. Total consumer loans were down 35 percent to $18.1 billion, and included a 50 percent decline in total credit card loans and a 17 percent decline in real estate loans.

Revenue from investment banking fell 25 percent. Lower demand for Citigroup’s currency and interest rate investments led to a 22 percent decline in fixed income revenue. Revenue from underwriting municipal and investment grade debt also fell 19 percent.

Citi’s investment banking results were weaker than those reported last week by rivals JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp.

Citi’s international divisions performed slightly better. Those revenues rose 8 percent to $4.6 billion. Overseas deposits increased 13 percent to $163 billion, and loans rose 14 percent to $126 billion.