New York Citigroup Inc.’s earnings rose 74 percent in the third quarter as more of its customers paid their bills on time, leading to lower losses from loans. An accounting gain also boosted income.
It was the seventh straight quarter of income growth for Citi, the nation’s third-largest bank by assets. Citigroup was one of the biggest recipients of taxpayer support during the financial crisis. It received $45 billion in bailouts funds and was partly owned by the government until December 2010.
The New York bank’s net income rose 74 percent, to $3.8 billion, due to lower losses from loans and an accounting gain related to the valuation of the bank’s own debt. Citi’s stock fell 1.7 percent to close at $27.93, less than other banks stocks.
The profit report came as the Occupy Wall Street movement entered its second month and spread across the country, targeting large financial institutions like Citi. As of Monday, the bank said it had not yet been approached by organizers of the protest following an offer last week from Citigroup’s CEO, Vikram Pandit, to meet with them.
Occupy Wall Street rallies started last month in New York with protests against income inequality and demands for higher taxes on the wealthy. CEOs like Pandit are prime targets. On Saturday, two dozen people were arrested after they entered a Citibank branch in New York and refused to leave.
Banks like Citi have benefited as Americans have improved their financial health, saving more and paying off their credit card debt on time. Citi’s losses from bad loans fell 41 percent during the quarter to $4.5 billion as defaults fell on Citi-branded cards. That allowed Citi to add $1.4 billion to its earnings from credit reserves it had set aside earlier in anticipation of deeper losses.
However, the bank’s ability to collect fees from raising interest rates on loans or from fees for late payments has decreased because of new regulations. That led to a 9 percent drop in revenue at its North American consumer business. Rival Wells Fargo & Co., which also released its results Monday, took a similar hit to its credit card fee income due to new banking rules.
Citi said a new regulation has also changed its plans for its private-label credit card unit, which issues cards in partnership with retail stores. Citi had said it was planning to either sell or reduce the size of the unit. The bank reversed course after noticing that customers are using retailer-issued cards more. Pandit said in an internal memo to employees the business earned $2.2 billion so far this year as delinquencies declined.