Citigroup reported a fourth-quarter loss of $7.6 billion Tuesday

Citigroup reported a fourth-quarter loss of $7.6 billion Tuesday, although its latest results were tied to the bank’s refund of $20 billion in outstanding bailout funds owed to the government.

On a per share basis, the New York City-based firm said it lost 33 cents a share, which was in line with Wall Street expectations. Still, the bank said it would have reported a loss of $1.4 billion even after excluding an after-tax charge of $6.2 billion related to paying back the government.

As one of the harder hit banks in the wake of the financial crisis, Citigroup has been struggling to get back to profitability. For the full year, Citigroup posted a loss of $1.6 billion.

Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit maintained Tuesday that much progress had been made along those lines over the past year, with the company cutting expenses and staffing levels as well as selling off a number of its different businesses.

In 2008, Citigroup reported a loss of $27.7 billion, with a $17.3 billion loss in the fourth quarter of that year alone.

“As we enter 2010, we are strongly capitalized, significantly more efficient, and are executing on a clear strategy that is focused on clients,” he said in a statement.

The bank also highlighted some encouraging within its massive loan portfolio. Credit losses fell to $7.1 billion during the quarter, down $800 million from the previous three-month period.

Citigroup also set aside less money for bad loans during the quarter, suggesting that losses tied to problem loans may soon start to moderate.

John Gerspach, Citigroup’s chief financial officer said the company continued to see indications that credit conditions worldwide may be “stabilizing or improving,” particularly within Asia and Latin America.

Still, the latest results were hardly rosy from the recovering financial giant.

Revenue within its North American consumer banking business, for example, declined from the third quarter, hurt by new a new series of federal rules aimed at making banks’ credit card practices more consumer friendly.

At the same time, profits in Citigroup’s investment banking business came in at just half of what they were just three months ago.

Citigroup (C, Fortune 500) shares tumbled nearly 3% in pre-market trading Tuesday though. The bank is the second major financial firm to report its fourth quarter results. So far, investors have been disappointed.

Although JPMorgan Chase (JPM, Fortune 500) posted a better-than-expected profit on Friday, the stock fell due to cautious comments about the economy from CEO Jamie Dimon. Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500) and Goldman Sachs (GS, Fortune 500) are all due to release their results later this week.  To top of page

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