Prudential Upgrades Citigroup to 'Hold'

Analyst Michael Mayo sees fewer challenges ahead for the financial services company

Prudential upgraded Citigroup (C ) to hold from sell.

Analyst Michael Mayo raised the $3.30 2003 earnings per share estimate to $3.35, and upped the $3.60 2004 estimate to $3.70 as the company was helped by its unique positioning and low rates. He sees a 20%+ dividend increase next week. He notes less of Citigroup is cyclically or structurally challenged than he previously thought, and he sees an improvement in corporate governance.

Mayo says trading revenues may be more sustainable during this low-rate period than he previously thought. He still doesn't rate the shares as a buy, given the lingering structural issues, ongoing business-model changes, his belief that Citigroup's legal reserve is insufficient, and that there's unrealistic expectations for 17% growth in Citigroup's consumer business.

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