Apr 16, 12:53 PM EDT

Citigroup lifts profits by controlling costs; bank keeps slimming down after financial crisis


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AP Photo/RICHARD DREW

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NEW YORK (AP) -- Citigroup kept a lid on costs and that helped boost its bottom line last quarter. The big bank continues to slim down following the financial crisis.

Here's how Citi performed on:

CUTTING EXPENSES: The bank was able to cut expenses and legal costs across its businesses, more than offsetting a decline in revenues. Citi's expenses fell to $10.9 billion in the quarter, from $12.2 billion a year earlier. Legal expenses dropped to $387 million from $945 million.

Citi has been cutting staff. The bank employed 239,000 people at the end of the first quarter, down from 248,000 staff a year earlier. At the peak of the housing bubble in 2007, Citi had roughly 375,000 workers.

RESTRUCTURING: The bank has righted itself under CEO Michael Corbat. It has sold off businesses and restructured itself over the last several years following a near collapse in the financial crisis that required the government to keep it afloat.

The bank passed the Federal Reserve's "stress tests" last month, which allowed Citi to buy back its own shares from the open market and raise its dividend for the first time since the financial crisis. Even Citi Holdings, the storehouse of assets that Citi wants to dispose of, turned a profit in the latest quarter, partially through asset sales.

TRADING: Unlike Goldman Sachs or JPMorgan Chase, Citi did not do as well in trading. Markets revenue fell 6 percent year-over-year, as bond and currency trading revenue dipped 11 percent. Citi tends to focus on trading mortgages and similar investments, whose performances were not as strong as currencies. Citi has also said it incurred a "modest loss" when the Swiss franc jumped earlier this year.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The bank earned $4.8 billion, or $1.51 a share, in the first quarter. That compared with $3.9 billion, or $1.23 a share, in the same period last year. Revenue slipped to $19.74 billion from $20.21 billion.

Citigroup's stock rose 81 cents, or 2 percent, to $54 a share in afternoon trading Thursday. It has climbed 12 percent in the last year, compared with a rise of 13 percent for the broader stock market.

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