Citigroup shares sank 5% as of early afternoon today, in part due to Merrill Lynch cutting its 2008 earnings estimates for the troubled financial company. And it didn't help that a story that ran today on the MarketWatch website quoted the chief executive of Dubai International Capital who told a private equity conference that Citi won't survive unless it gets more financial help.
Merrill forecasts a first-quarter loss of $1.66 a share for Citi versus its prior call for a profit of 55 cents a share. For 2008, Merrill expects Citi to earn 24 cents a share, down from $2.74. Merrill based its downward revisions on worsening problems at Citi's residential and commercial mortgage markets, corporate debt markets, and investment banking business.
Meanwhile, MarketWatch reported that Dubai International Capital chief executive Sameer Al Ansari said that it will take more than the joint efforts of current Citi investors Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Kuwait Investment Authority and Saudi investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to save the bank. These sovereign funds have pumped billions of dollars into Citi since late last year, but the bank's subprime and other credit-related woes have gotten worse as its stock continues to plunge.