Meredith Whitney is a banking analyst made famous by downgrading Citigroup in late October 2007, saying that the bank was facing a $30 billion capital shortfall and later telling the press “Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around.” In the years since she’s had less than flattering things to say about the firm and as recently as March 14, 2012, told CNBC that Citi “has no earnings power, isn’t going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years” and “is like an old broken-down Victorian house.” (In the same interview, she told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she’d change her mind about the big C would be if she received “a new brain.”) So it probably surprised a few people when, earlier this month, she upgraded the bank. But please, do not get the mistaken impression that she’s suddenly in love with the place or has developed any feelings for it whatsoever. Fact of the matter is, the mere thought of the place still sickens her.
While her latest move was seen as an endorsement of Citi, Whitney said not to read too much into the call. “It certainly doesn’t mean I’m running into the loving arms of Citigroup or I’ve become bullish on Citigroup. What it means is I don’t see any near-term negative catalyst for the company,” she said. “In the collective it’s not that interesting of a stock.”
Ya hear that, Citi? Not if you were the last two people on earth!