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Morgan Stanley Displaces Citigroup as Least-Loved Big Bank Stock

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Citigroup Inc. has shed its standing as the least-loved big bank stock on Wall Street, leaving Morgan Stanley at the bottom of the pile.

Citigroup, helmed by Jane Fraser, had held the lowest consensus rating among the six biggest U.S. banks since May 2022, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

That changed this week when an analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc shuffled his recommendations — upgrading Citigroup and lowering Morgan Stanley.

“Citigroup is an attractive vehicle to gain bank exposure,” HSBC’s Saul Martinez wrote in a note, adding that the firm is “our preferred choice among large-cap banks.”

Morgan Stanley Is Now the Least-Loved Big Bank Stock

As bank-stock analysts have reconfigured their ratings for 2024, Citigroup scored upgrades, including from Wolfe Research.

Wells Fargo & Co.’s Mike Mayo named it his top pick and said the stock could double over the next few years.

Related: Best & Worst Broker-Dealer Stocks of 2023

A plurality of analysts now recommend buying Citigroup shares, and their price targets indicate they expect the stock to rise about 8% over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, the majority of analysts now recommend investors hold Morgan Stanley, but not to add shares.

No analysts give it a sell rating. The average price target is for an advance of about 3% in the next year.

Ted Pick took over as the firm’s chief executive officer this month, succeeding James Gorman.

For HSBC’s Martinez, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is a better way than Morgan Stanley to play an expected rebound in the capital-markets business.

Four of the biggest U.S. banks, including Citigroup, are set to release earnings on Friday, kicking off the reporting for Corporate America.

(Credit: Bloomberg)

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