Citi (NYSE: C) a $12 stock? Richard Bove thinks so

“Notorious” banking analyst Richard Bove thinks C will be worth $12 when earnings “normalize” and the bank restructures.

In order to restructure its business, Citi must fall-back on its core businesses, which include: taking deposits worldwide, diversifying its loan book, act as a facilitator for cross-border fund flows, and continue its global capital market services, wrote Bove.

Moving on, the company needs to strengthen management, according to Bove, so as to “completely wipe out” its destructive corporate culture. “The revolving door continues to be the only management program at Citigroup.” he wrote.

To shore-up its balance sheet, according to Bove, Citi needs to continue on its current trajectory. The bank increased its cash position by 90% to $190 billion, reduced its trading book by $243 billion, beefed-up its reserves by $13.5 billion or 73.6%, and removed the special investment vehicles since its near collapse.

“This data suggests that Citigroup’s balance sheet is now more liquid and more equity- based than at any time this decade,” wrote Bove. When the economy improves, “this liquidity and equity will be put to work in building the bank’s earnings.”

Bove said the bank’s core problem is its loan portfolio. “It is clearly one of the poorest ever written,” he wrote. This may be due to the extension of sub-prime loans, the failure to underwrite small and mid-sized loans properly, and the acquisition of a private label credit card business, according to the report.

Normally, a loan loss provision equaling 6% of its outstanding loans, Bove wrote, would drive a bank out of business, but since the government deemed Citi “too big to fail,” it was able to avoid this fate and possibly rebound down the line.

“Thus, even though the loan loss problems at the firm are unlikely to dissipate for some time, in fact, they may get worse before they improve, the company will prevail,” wrote Bove.

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