Citigroup shares are slightly higher in the pre-market Tuesday after the beleaguered U.S. bank hired Richard Stuckey to manage most of its $43-billion (U.S.) of subprime mortgage assets in the wake of a near-market panic on Monday from the bank's latest disclosure of additional loan quality writedowns. Nine years ago, the executive helped unwind Long-Term Capital Management LP's bad bets after the hedge fund suffered $4.6-billion of losses. But analysts say rescuing Citibank's subprime holdings may be a harder challenge than Long-Term Capital because the Citigroup mortgage portfolio rarely trades and is harder to value. According to data from Credit Suisse Group, credit-default swaps tied to Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, used to speculate on the companies' ability to repay their debt, are trading at the highest level in at least five years, suggesting investor confidence is eroding. "We are far from being out of the woods yet," Peter Plaut, an analyst with hedge fund manager Sanno Point Capital Management, told Bloomberg News. "Every time we come into the office for a new week, there's another shoe to drop." Meanwhile, Bear Stearns cuts its 2007 and 2008 profit forecasts on Citigroup, but maintained its "outperform" rating, saying the stock should catch up to its peers over the next year. The stock has traded as high as $36.30 before the opening bell, after closing at $35.90 on Monday.
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