It’s been a wild week for Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C), as the big bank was busy hogging headlines for the better part of the week. The stock churned quite a bit during that time, as news flowed at a quicker pace than investors could absorb. At the noon hour (EST), Citi had lost 3.23% from its opening on Tuesday, indicating that the market wasn’t thrilled with many of the headlines. On the upside, though, the stock has gained about 0.75% so far today.
Indeed, it’s been a tough week all around, as both the Dow and the S&P 500 are down so far from their Tuesday open, with the Dow slipping by about 0.26% and the S&P dropping by 0.67%.
Why the rollercoaster ride?
Both B of A and Wells also had some news this week, and I strongly suspect that these morsels were responsible for each bank’s stock performance.
The news that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) added to its already hefty investment in Wells Fargo most certainly gave the big bank a boost, and the announcement regarding B of A’s CEO pay package most likely had the opposite effect on that bank’s shares. Despite the fact that many, including myself, firmly believe Brian Moynihan has earned his new salary level and then some, the drop in Bank of America’s stock shows that not everyone is of the same mind.
Citi’s news production was fast and furious
For Citi, starting off the week with the announcement that it had purchased big-box has-been Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY)‘s credit card business from Capital One Financial Corp. (NYSE:COF) didn’t seem to have a deleterious effect, as shares climbed 1.11% during the day, on not-unusually high trading volume. Trading picked up a smidge on Wednesday, and the stock fell by 2.92% by the end of the day. It fell another 1% before the opening bell on Thursday, and things got ugly again. Trading picked up by 42%, leaving the stock battered by 1.04% by the time the market closed. Whew.
Chances are, though, that all of that action wasn’t just due to investors digesting a possibly dubious credit card portfolio acquisition and reacting a day or two later. Citi had lots of stuff going on in addition to that piece of news, so it’s anybody’s guess as to which bit rankled investors the most, leading to the stock plunges on Wednesday and Thursday.
More excitement in Citi’s executive ranks was apparent by Wednesday, when the bank announced the retirement of veteran acquisitions mogul Chad Leat. Though Leat is said to have left on good terms, his position of vice chair of global banking is not slated to be filled any time soon.
In the boardroom, Micheal O’Neill, Citi’s chair, told the The Wall Street Journal that he is now of the opinion that his bank should not be broken up. This represents a sea change in this executive’s position from an earlier time, when he thought not only Citi, but Bank of America too should be chopped into more manageable pieces.
While neither of these items is of paramount importance in and of itself, investors may have become uneasy if they interpreted O’Neill’s comments as waning commitment to Citi’s cost-cutting strategies.