‘Relatively Good Earnings Season’ Ahead for Banks: Pro

Oliver Quillia for cnbc.com

Citigroup became the latest bank to report quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street’s expectations on Friday — a trend that one analyst expects to continue.

“This should be a relatively good earnings season for the banks,” said Jeff Harte, a principal at Sandler O’Neill. “I say relative to expectations, and a lot of these stocks are really beaten down. I mean, expectations are pretty low.”

O’Neill has a “buy” rating and a $49 price target on the company’s stock.

The bank reported fixed income and investment banking trading revenue that O’Neill called “okay,” but he said equity trading revenue was probably not quite as good.

While the company took larger litigation and restructuring charges than O’Neill had been expecting, the overall expense number still came in below his forecast, he told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“It’s still a very good story,” he said. “It’s just kind of taking a longer time to really develop as far into the share price than I would hope, but most of the trends I want to see are continuing to be positive.”

O’Neill noted that much of the commentary that is coming out of banks’ management teams sounds a lot better than recent economic reports. Some of this has already shown up in better-than-expected loan growth.

Although O’Neill does not expect Citigroup to request a dividend hike or share buybacks in the near term, he said it does look like the bank has “a ton of capital.”

Major bank earnings continue later this week with reports planned from Goldman Sachs on Tuesday, Bank of Americaon Wednesday and Morgan Stanleyon Thursday.

—By CNBC.com's Katie Little

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Citigroup has an investment banking conflict with the companies mentioned in this article.



Follow Katie Little on Twitter @katie_little.