Citi posts highest quarterly profit in eight years as costs plunge

Thu Apr 16, 2015 10:24pm EDT
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By David Henry and Anil D'Silva

(Reuters) - Citigroup Inc (C.N: Quote) reported its highest quarterly profit in nearly eight years as costs plunged, showing that the bank's efforts to streamline its business may be starting to pay off.

Citi has been slowly getting its house in order by cutting costs and shedding assets that are not critical to its main businesses. It has sold retail operations in many countries and shrunk its U.S. branch network.

Shares of the third biggest U.S. bank by assets rose 2.3 percent to $54.45 on Thursday.

Citi's operating expenses fell 10 percent to $10.88 billion in the first quarter ended March 31 as it spent less on employee compensation and advertising and marketing.

The bank reached its target of having operating expenses of about 55 percent of revenue, Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said on a call.

Legal and restructuring costs fell to $403 million from $1.16 billion.

Revenue from investment banking, which is part of Citi's institutional clients group, rose 14 percent to about $1.20 billion.

However, overall revenue in the institutional clients group fell 1 percent to $9.03 billion, hurt by lower fixed income trading revenue.   Continued...

A Citibank ATM is seen in Los Angeles, California, March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson