Ahead of the Bell: Citi

NEW YORK -- A Sterne Agee analyst on Monday cut his rating for Citigroup Inc. to "Neutral" from "Buy," saying that he doesn't expect the bank's shares to rise significantly any time soon.

Todd Hagerman, who reaffirmed his $33 price target for the stock, noted that Citibank's shares are up 30 percent from their July lows, largely as a result of optimism related to the global economy. But economic uncertainty continues in Europe, putting pressure on currencies, while it's also unclear what's going to happen with bank regulatory reform.

The result is increased investment risk without meaningful potential rewards to offset it, he said.

"Accordingly, we have become increasingly more cautious surrounding the potential downside risk in the shares from current levels driving our rating down to `Neutral' from `Buy,'" Hagerman wrote in a note to investors.

Citibank shares rose 32 cents to $33.04 in premarket trading.