The rising demand for credit and payment services worldwide makes global financial heavyweight Citigroup a solid buy, Richard Bove, senior vice president of equity research at Rochdale Securities, told CNBC Tuesday.
To buy or not to buy Citi has been the focus of intense speculation in recent months as shares of the company, hit hard by the financial crisis and ensuing government intervention, remain down 92 percent on a three-year basis.
Looking to the future of Citigroup, however, is most important when considering whether to snap up what could be a great bargain, Bove said.
"The operating businesses of the company have an unusually positive outlook for the future," Bove said. "The earnings per share should be 70 cents, and a couple of years from now, the stock should hit eight and a half. I think it's a buy."
Opposing View: 'Mediocre'?
Harry Rady, CEO of Rady Asset Management, doesn't see Citi as such a great bargain. He noted that the company's presence in 140 different countries, with over 250,000 employees, makes its business too diverse to be managed efficiently.
"Bigger is not necesarily better," said Rady. "We want to buy the best-of-breed company in a given segment, and they're mediocre in a dozen different business segments."
Rady acknowledged Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit's recent efforts to strip out underperforming assets and whittle down the group's unwieldy balance sheet, but said it's far too soon in the company's recovery to make solid earnings estimates.
"He's done a good job, there's no doubt about it," said Rady. "But he's got a long, long way to go."
Scorecard—What They Said:
- Bove's Previous Appearance on CNBC (June 21, 2010)
- Rady's Previous Appearance on CNBC (April 16, 2010)
Other Stocks in the News:
CNBC Data Pages:
Bove and Rady do not own shares of Citigroup.