Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Citigroup: Morgan Stanley's Top Short Idea for 2008

Morgan Stanley is out pitching Citi (NYSE:C) as their top short idea for 2008. Near-term, the announcement of Vikram Pandit as CEO as well as the Fed should be a plus for Citi. But looking to 2008, MSCO sees 3 reasons to be short: earnings are deteriorating, they expect new management to deliver a dividend cut, not a breakup, and they expect further hybrid issuance, diluting current shareholders. The firm does not believe the stock has bottomed out as it is trading above trough multiples: 18% above trough PEs, 24% above trough P/B and 48% above trough P/TB + Reserves.

The firm has lowered their 2008 EPS From $4.01 to $3.55 due to higher losses against loans, CDOs, and SIVs, and due to slower top line growth in the IB and thinner net interest margins given wide LIBOR. They have lowered the forecasted dividend from 54c/quarter to 30c/quarter in 2Q08. MSCO is lowering their price target to $28 based on trough PE levels of 8.0x.