Citigroup beats estimates, delays preferred conversion date

Citigroup (C) surprised Wall Street today, reporting a lower than expected loss of 18 cents per share and higher than expected net income of $1.6 billion, further fueling sentiment that a recovery in the banking sector may be underway. Citi reported revenues of $24.8 billion, almost double last year's first quarter performance, citing strong trading and investment banking activity and lower net write-downs in its securities and banking division as the main catalysts. The numbers represent the best quarter for Citi since the second quarter of 2007.

Analysts had expected Citi to lose about 32 cents per share, and a year ago, Citi suffered a loss of more than $5 billion. So what led to the turnaround?