In other items: Income from Ford's financing and credit business helped the nation's No. 2 automaker swing to a $104 million profit in the fourth quarter; and AT&T closed out another rough year with a strong fourth quarter driven by aggressive cost-cutting and restructuring efforts.

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Citigroup, the nation’s largest financial institution, reported a record profit for the fourth quarter but said that 2005 earnings could be at the low end of Wall Street expectations.

Citigroup said the fourth-quarter profit totaled $5.32 billion, or $1.02 a share, up 12 percent from $4.76 billion, or 91 cents a share, a year earlier. That was in line with the expectations of analysts.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $21.88 billion, up 8 percent from $20.2 billion a year earlier. For the year, revenue was $86.2 billion, up 11 percent from $77.4 billion in 2003.

For the year, Citigroup earnings were $17.05 billion, or $3.26 per share, down from $17.85 billion, or $3.42 a share, in 2003. Excluding one-time charges, earnings would have been $21.2 billion, or $4.07 per share, Citigroup said.

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Citigroup also announced yesterday that its board approved a 10 percent increase in the company’s quarterly dividend. The dividend of 44 cents — up from 40 cents — will be payable Feb. 25 to stockholders of record as of Feb. 7.

Shares in Citigroup dropped 27 cents to close at $47.77 yesterday.

Financing credited with Ford income boost

Income from Ford’s financing and credit business helped the nation’s No. 2 automaker swing to a $104 million profit in the fourth quarter despite a loss on the automotive side.

Excluding special items, Ford earned $555 million, or 28 cents a share, in the quarter, down 7 percent from a year ago but ahead of Wall Street forecasts. The consensus of analysts was for earnings of 27 cents a share.

Revenue for the quarter was $44.7 billion, down from $45.9 billion a year ago.

The company, which released fourth-quarter and year-end results yesterday, withheld its 2005 forecast until next week. Shares fell 47 cents, or 3.4 percent, to close at $13.46 yesterday.

Strong quarter comes with gloomy forecast for AT&T

AT&T closed out another rough year with a strong fourth quarter driven by aggressive cost-cutting and restructuring efforts, but the telephone company issued a dour forecast for the year ahead.

Earnings for the final three months of 2004 nearly doubled to $625 million, or 78 cents per share. In the same period in 2003, AT&T earned $340 million, 43 cents per share.

More than half of the latest profit came from a tax benefit related to last fall’s huge write-down in the value of AT&T’s long-distance phone network.

That network became a far less valuable asset after a series of regulatory defeats that prompted AT&T to halt all marketing and customer-retention efforts for traditional local and long-distance phone service. Shares fell 44 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $18.07 yesterday.

Compiled from The Associated Press