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'The Wall Street Journal' Meredith Whitneys Meredith Whitney

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Things are looking pretty grim for Meredith Whitney Advisory Group. Except possibly from Bermuda.

Ms. Whitney won acclaim in 2007 with a prescient warning that Citigroup Inc. would come under pressure—a call that gained widespread recognition and catapulted her to the upper ranks of Wall Street analysts. Using that renown, she opened a research firm called Meredith Whitney Advisory Group in early 2009 and later spoke of expanding it….

The firm started with more than 30 research clients, but just 14 of the clients were left at the end of January, according to people familiar with the matter. Elliott Management, Paulson & Co. and Balyasny Asset Management are among those that have departed, according to people close to Ms. Whitney's firm and to those hedge funds. The firm still counted AllianceBernstein LP, BlackRock Inc. and Guggenheim Partners LLC as clients as of the end of January, the latest period for which information was available.

The firm's staff has shrunk in the past two years from five full-time investment professionals, in addition to Ms. Whitney, to just one as of last month, according to people close to the firm. Meredith Whitney Advisory Group has published just three corporate-research pieces since the beginning of May and no corporate reports since May 23, according to the firm's website. It says the firm covers 15 financial-services firms but the last time a research report was published that focused on J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., for example, was Oct. 12 of last year….

Those who have worked for Ms. Whitney say she continues to have an impressive Rolodex and has close relationships with executives in the financial community and investors. In meetings and when she is engaged in research, she continues to do a good job evaluating broad moves in financial shares, they say.

Yet four former employees at the firm say they became frustrated with Ms. Whitney's work habits. She often works from Bermuda during long weekends on the island, these people say. In the past, Ms. Whitney has said she commutes on weekends from John F. Kennedy airport in New York to Bermuda's exclusive Mid Ocean Club. A representative of the resort says she owns a home on the resort's property.

Clients Come, Go at Research House [WSJ]


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Get ready to report to the kind of people whose heads you used to stick in toilets.

Meredith Whitney: Citigroup Should Just Give Up

Earlier today, we wondered if, in light of the news that Vikram Pandit had resigned as CEO of Citigroup, analyst Meredith Whitney's opinion of the bank had changed. Choice comments that Whitney has made about the Big C in the past have included: "Citigroup is in such a mess Stephen Hawking couldn’t turn this company around"; "Citi is like an old broken-down Victorian house"; and Citi “has no earnings power, isn’t going to grow, hasn’t been investable in four years." She also once told Maria Bartiromo that the only way she'd change her mind about company would be if she received "a new brain." Still, sometimes analysts change their tune when new blood is brought in and, like former FDIC chair Sheila Bair, perhaps some of her beef with the bank had been a personal dislike of Uncle V. Now that he's gone, is she seeing Citigroup in a new light? Not so much, no. In the wake of CEO Vikram Pandit‘s surprise departure this morning, Whitney, founder and CEO of Meredith Whtney Advisory Group LLC, issued a note cautioning clients to be wary of Citigroup even under new leadership. “Citigroup is ‘the incredible shrinking bank,’ and the least interest of the big four, in our opinion,” Whitney said. “No CEO will be able to change these facts in the near-term. It appears the board feels the same way, as they have appointed an unknown to the outside to the new CEO position, Mike Corbat.” [...] On Tuesday, the stock has wavered between gains and losses on heavy trading volume in reaction to Pandit’s resignation. Shares are up 29% this year through Monday’s close. Despite signs of incremental improvement, Whitney isn’t backing down from her bearish stance. “Any seat in Citigroup’s court should come with a warning label,” Whitney says. Meredith Whitney: No CEO Can Fix Citigroup [WSJ] Earlier: Meredith Whitney Cannot Stress Enough How Little She Thinks Of Citigroup