"Citi is going to obviously reapply to the Federal Reserve to return capital sometime this year, and these numbers support that effort," he added.
The Wall Street bank was turned down last year by the Fed , when it attempted a similar payout. At that time, its balance sheet wasn’t strong enough for regulators.
But this year, things might be different.
“This company, as you might recall, has been criticized for not controlling its operating expenses, which they now have under control. Expenses were flat year-over-year, and down from the fourth quarter,” said Cassidy.
Expectations for Citi to continue to keep expenses down and improve its overall books remain high, considering the performance of its peers. Financials were the best performing sector in the S&P 500 index in the first quarter.
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CNBC Data Pages:
Gerard Cassidy does not personally own shares of Citigroup, but RBC Capital Markets is currently providing Citigroup with non-securities services. RBC is also involved in managing or co-managing the public offering of Citigroup securities.
Follow Jennifer Leigh Parker on Twitter @jparker741.