Citigroup continues to shed its own shares.
We noted in February that the banking giant’s subsidiaries were cutting back on Citigroup (ticker: C) in the fourth quarter. Citigroup units continued to sell Citigroup stock in the first quarter, according to a regulatory filing made Friday.
Units of the bank sold 228,600 Citigroup shares in the quarter, cutting the overall stake by 17% to 1.09 million shares. Citigroup shares slid 9% in the first quarter, excluding paid dividends. Barron’s has noted that not everybody is selling shares in the bank, however. ValueAct Capital, for example, recently disclosed that it has bought $1.2 billion in Citigroup shares.
Citigroup entities were also busy selling General Electric (GE) and Weatherford International (WFT), trimming back on Tesla (TSLA), and buying up Exxon Mobil (XOM).
Citigroup declined to comment on first-quarter stock trades.
In the fourth quarter, Citigroup nearly doubled its stake in GE to 15.5 million shares. However, in the first three months of 2018, Citigroup backed off on the conglomerate, selling 2.6 million shares and ending March with 12.8 million shares. The first quarter was a rough one for GE, as shares tumbled 22% on disappointments that there wasn’t a quick fix for the troubled conglomerate. We were bearish on GE in February and then reiterated a negative view last month. Earlier this month, we noted that JPMorgan analyst and GE bear C. Stephen Tusa continued to rate the shares at Underweight.
Oilfield-services firm Weatherford saw shares collapse 45% in the first quarter. Yet recent strength has pumped new life into the stock. Since the end of March, Weatherford is up 51% through Tuesday’s close. Perhaps Citigroup let go too quickly. The bank hacked off nearly 60% of its Weatherford stake, selling 2.2 million shares and ending March with nearly 1.5 million shares.
Citigroup also trimmed back on Tesla, which saw shares tumble 25% in the first quarter on concerns over getting production up to speed and a high-profile fatal crash. The electric-vehicle maker’s bonds fell, as well. Citigroup trimmed a little more than 8% from its holdings, selling 35,800 Tesla shares in the quarter, ending the quarter with 476,430 shares.
Like Weatherford, Tesla shares have come back a bit since the end of the first quarter, but are still down 20% so far in 2018. Co-founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk called attention to himself by taking a confrontational stance on a conference with analysts, and days later he bought $10 million in Tesla shares. Some executives are no longer along for the ride, however.
Speaking of cards, Citigroup seemed especially driven to buy shares of Exxon in the first three months of the year. The bank bulked up on the energy giant by buying 1.3 million Exxon shares in the first quarter, lifting its investment by more than 50% to 3.7 million shares. Exxon slipped 10% in the quarter, but have come back to be flat for the year-to-date.
In a recent cover story, we acknowledged that the company had made missteps in the past but also noted that it offered a safe 4% dividend yield. “A bet on Exxon is also a bet on oil itself, and here the trend might be more promising than many investors realize,” we wrote. Citibank apparently has come to that realization.