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Citigroup Boosts Profits on Weak Sales

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Citigroup (C), now 12% owned by U.S. taxpayers, said Monday its third-quarter net income was $2.17 billion, or $0.07 a share, beating analysts' estimates by $0.01. Sales of $20.7 billion, however, missed estimates by $45 million.

The bank's shares traded near $4.10 on Monday, up 4% on above-average volume.

“Achieving our third straight quarter of positive operating earnings is continued evidence that we are successfully executing our strategy and we believe we have put in place all the elements for continued profitability,” said CEO Vikram Pandit in a statement.

Net Income Off 20%

The company’s net income was down $529 million, or 20%, from the second quarter, at $2.17 billion. Still, this was up sharply from last year’s net income of $101 million. The company said the quarter-to-quarter drop was due to a loss on its sale of the Student Loan Corporation, as well as securities and banking profits, which declined 17%.

Third-quarter 2010 revenues of $20.7 billion declined $1.3 billion, or 6%, from the second quarter 2010, but rose 2% over last year’s results.

Private-banking revenue was $497 million, down from $512 million in the second quarter and $522 million last year.

"Our unique footprint and strong presence in the emerging markets have us well aligned for the growth trends we see globally,

and we continue to make investments in our franchise so we can serve our clients at the highest level all over the world," Pandit explained in a statement.

Brokerage and Asset Management Sees $153 Million Loss

The brokerage and asset management unit reported a third-quarter net loss of $153 million versus a loss of $95 million in the second quarter and a year-ago profit of $74 million.

Sales in the group were also in the red, on losses in net-interest revenue. The sales losses of $8 million were off sharply from revenue of $141 million in the second quarter and $525 million a year ago.

Citigroup, the third-largest U.S. bank by assets, said its total assets increased 2% sequentially to $1.98 trillion at the end of the third quarter 2010. But its end-of-period assets declined $44 billion, or 9%, sequentially to $421 billion.

Last Wednesday, JPMorgan, the second-biggest U.S. bank, said profit rose 23% to $4.42 billion, or $1.01 a share, from $3.59 billion, or 82 cents, a year earlier, beating analysts' estimates.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, the largest U.S. bank, reports earnings on Tuesday.