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Citi's Dividend Dilemma

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Another day, another drubbing for Citigroup (C). The financial giant took yet another hammering from investors on Dec. 27 after Goldman Sachs (GS) boosted its estimate of Citi's asset writedowns for the fourth quarter by 70% and predicted the firm would have to cut its dividend by 40% in 2008 to preserve capital.

Equity analyst William Tanona at Goldman more than doubled his projected per-share loss for Citigroup to $1.33 from 52¢ in the fourth quarter and said he now expects write-offs related to collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, to be $18.7 billion, vs. a prior estimate of $11 billion.

He also cut his 2008 and 2009 earnings estimates for Citi, saying that about $25 billion in remaining exposure to CDOs after the fourth quarter's write-offs will force the firm to raise an additional $5 billion to $10 billion and cut its dividend next year. (Goldman Sachs has provided investment banking services for Citigroup within the past 12 months and expects to provide them within the next three months.)

Read the whole story at BusinessWeek