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Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser sees ‘tremendous upside’ in stock after tepid Investor Day response

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Jane Fraser, chief executive officer for Latin American at Citigroup Inc., smiles during the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., on Monday, April 29, 2019. The conference brings together leaders in business, government, technology, philanthropy, academia, and the media to discuss actionable and collaborative solutions to some of the most important questions of our time. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser called her first Investor Day conference a success despite lingering skepticism and an underwhelming reaction from analysts covering the bank.

Fraser told CNBC’s David Faber on Thursday in an interview that while it will “take a few years” to achieve her targets for returns, investors will see revenue growth from her efforts “sooner rather than later.” The interview aired on “Squawk on the Street.”

When asked how long Citigroup would continue to trade well below its book value, Fraser had this response: “I think there’s tremendous upside in our stock, and I’m looking forward to doing the job needed to get the execution done so that it gets realized,” she said.

Fraser, who started as CEO of Citigroup a year ago, held her inaugural investor conference on Wednesday. It was a nearly full-day affair in which Fraser and her deputies pitched their vision of a simpler, more profitable institution centered around the bank’s strengths in global corporate banking and payments.

But some analysts were disappointed that Fraser set a medium-term return target of 11% to 12%, arguing that it is hard to recommend Citigroup’s stock because it will take several years to even accomplish that modest level. Two analysts downgraded the bank after the event.

“The uninspiring medium-term ROTCE target of 11-12% is simply not high enough to merit an Overweight recommendation in the near term,” Atlantic Equities’ John Heagerty said in a note Thursday.

Citigroup, which has traditionally been the most global of big U.S. banks, has 200 employees continuing to toil in Ukraine despite the Russian-led war there, Fraser said. They are helping clients with payroll, supply chains and food, she said.

“I don’t think anybody knows how long they can keep going,” she said.

Meanwhile, both Citigroup and its clients are working to unwind their financial exposures to Russia, she said.

“There is a big unwind going,” she said.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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