Thursday, December 9, 2010

Citigroup Chairman Dick "Too Interwoven to Fail" Parsons Throws Cold Water on Dividend (C)

When I first read Parsons' interview at CNBC:
...Parsons said allowing Citi to fail previously or in the future would be akin to having "the heart, the pump of the economic system fail because then everybody else dies."

"It's probably the most important private financial institution for maintaining our economic strength and presence around the world. You can't let an institution like that go down," he said....
I was almost physically repelled. 
And I was reminded of some of the foulest smelling chemical compounds on earth:
Putrescine (1,4-diaminobutane or butanediamine)
Cadaverine (1,5-pentanediamine)
Skatole (3-methylindole)
Their stench, reek, and stink are chemical warnings to human beings that something very bad is going on and you should stay away.
Where was I? Right, Citigroup. We're fans of the stock.
The institution? I think it and the world's other mega-banks are a threat to human existence.
We're also fans of doing away with the notion of corporate personhood. 
Go figure.
Here the WSJ's Deal Journal's comments:
A big theme of the week has been bank dividends. With America’s deposit-taking institutions on healthier footing (or at least on no-longer-cataclysmic footing), banks and/or their investors -– including Citigroup, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and PNC — have talked eagerly about resuming dividend levels not seen since the financial crisis.

But Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons injected a note of caution into the dividend frenzy, at least for his bank.

“There will come a time when Citi resumes its dividend policy because I think we’re now on a path to sustainable growth and return to normal levels of profitability. But I wouldn’t look for that in the near term,” he said in an interview today with CNBC. “We’re just rebuilding the bank.”

You could just feel yield-hungry Citigroup holders shifting nervously in their desk chairs. Because of the Treasury’s exit this week from its Citi stake, and because of the Federal Reserve’s planned stress tests of banks, investors have been expecting a flood of dividends and other shareholder givebacks for early next year. Sounds like Citi is going to be a little more patient.

Parsons devoted most of his CNBC session to a passionate defense of Citigroup’s size, its tax benefits, and U.S. taxpayers’ now concluded bailout of the giant bank. The Treasury this week sold its last slug of common stock stemming from the $45 billion government bailout of Citigroup. Uncle Sam made a $12 billion profit on its stock in Citi, the Treasury said, giving Parsons an opportunity to take a victory lap.

How does it feel to be out from the government’s yoke? “It certainly is a significant step in Citi’s return to financial — not only viability — but strength and vigorousness,” Parsons said. “To be able to return all of that money plus an additional $12 billion worth of gain to the taxpayers, you got to feel good about it.”

Parsons said there remains a lot of “emotion and heat” around the government bailouts. This was “practically Satanic,” said Parsons, for whom hyperbole is second nature (he once likened the Federal Communications Commission to Nazi Germany)...MORE
The stock is trading up 6 cents at $4.70. We've been pounding the table on it for a year.
 Sometimes plugging our noses while we did.
The stock closed at $3.31 on Dec. 31, 2009, it's up 42% since then.
Such are the wages of capitalism.