After a year of writing down billions of dollars, suffering untold humiliations, and being subject to many uncomfortable overtures from Washington, Citigroup (with the help of seriously funky accounting practices) was this morning able to announce an actual profit. “We are pleased with our performance,” CEO Vikram Pandit said in a statement. “With revenues of nearly $25 billion and net income of $1.6 billion, we had our best overall quarter since the second quarter of 2007.” Yay! So why didn't Vikram show up to do a victory lap on this morning's earnings call with analysts? It should have been his moment! "Don't read anything into it," chief financial officer Ned Kelly responded, when asked of the chief's whereabouts. But it was odd. After all, just yesterday, JPMorgan's Jamie Dimon showed up and wowed everyone for his company's conference call. Where could Vikram possible be? We have a few guesses ...
A. Passed out on the floor of his office after unwittingly drinking a cinnamon latte Kelly and Gary Crittenden spiked with roofies.
B. In his apartment at the Beresford, standing in a pile of suits in front of a full-length mirror, sobbing. "None of these make me look CEO-like enough," he says, hiccuping. Wife Swati attempts to comfort him: "But they won't be able to see you, Vikram. It's a phone call."
C. In his office, playing BrickBreaker. "I've gotten to the twelfth level! I can't stop now! Ned, you go."
D. Hunched over some impossible math, thrillingly close to coming up with the formula that will solve all of the banking giant's problems, and the world's!
E. Asleep, but having one of those dreams that he's already on the conference call. "Whatever, Moszkowski," he mutters, a thin line of drool leaking onto his Pratesi sheets. "The Citi never sleeps."
After a Year of Heavy Losses, Citigroup Reports Profit [NYT]
Citi's First Quarter 2009 Conference Call [TBI/Clusterstock]