Tags: citigroup | return | market

Taxpayers Get Great Return on Citigroup So Far

Monday, 15 Jun 2009 11:37 AM

By Dan Weil

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Since the government first injected money into Citibank on Oct. 28, many have predicted that taxpayers would get fleeced.

But it hasn’t turned out that way so far.

The government has registered a return of 7.5 percent, including dividends, on its investment in Citi since that date, Bloomberg reports. Meanwhile, the Standard & Poors 500 Index has gained 2.4 percent.

That means the government’s Citi investment outperformed the S&P 500 by 200 percent. Money managers with that kind of track record are lauded as geniuses.

“Anything that they make is positive,” Frederic Dickson, chief market strategist for money manager D.A. Davidson, tells Bloomberg.

“After making a huge investment, that seems, on the surface, like a reasonable return for taxpayers.”

The government has sunk $45 billion into Citigroup through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Dividends earned through preferred shares purchased with that money total about $1.6 billion, according to Bloomberg data. Citi’s stock price also has soared more than 200 percent since early March.

That gain will help taxpayers because up to $25 billion of their preferred shares will convert into common stock.

“The returns came a little bit quicker than one would have expected,” William Fitzpatrick, a money manager at Optique Capital Management, tells Bloomberg.

Still, many experts remain bearish on Citigroup.

Superstar bank analyst Meredith Whitney told Steve Forbes in an interview: "I am staying away from bank stocks still," says, referring to Citi and Bank of America.

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