This year has seen the revival of industrial stocks, such as with Boeing Co (NYSE:BA), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON) and 3M Co (NYSE:MMM). It’s as if we have gone into a time warp. But there are still some notable names that have been left behind. Just look at General Electric Company (NYSE:GE). The year has been downright horrific. Consider that GE stock is off 45% to $17.50.
Keep in mind that the company is no longer the largest industrial operator, that is, based on market cap. So it should be no surprise that the longtime CEO, Jeffrey Imelt, has departed. As for the new CEO, John Flannery, he has embarked on yet another restructuring of the company.
But despite the changes, there seems to be no end to the bad news lately. The dividend has been slashed, the CFO has bolted and GE debt has been downgraded.
Kind of scary, huh? True. But hey, when it comes to looking for value opportunities, there always are troubling issues. Yet for patient investors, there could be substantial rewards. And I think this could be the case with GE stock.
Let’s take a look at 3 reasons:
Bull Factor #1 for GE Stock: Restructuring Plan
When Flannery made his proposal for his plans with GE, the reaction from Wall Street was harshly negative. The hope was that he would go all-in with a major breakup of the company.
Yet I think Flannery’s strategy looks spot on. After all, he still plans to pull off significant spin-offs – coming to about $20 billion over the next year or two. The focus will be on low-performing assets like lighting and transportation. It also looks like there will be a sell off of the Baker Hughes A GE Co (NYSE:BHI) stake.
Flannery will also continue with the cost cutting program, which will involve $2 billion in reductions. Although, perhaps the most important cost saver will be the dividend cut. This will save $4 billion annually.
Going forward, Flannery plans to focus GE on three core areas: aviation, healthcare and power. These are the kinds of industries that should provide steady growth for the long haul.
And Flannery’s background looks like a good fit. During his long tenure at GE, he has both strong operational expertise (as seen with the turnaround of the healthcare division) as well as a solid track record with M&A.
Bull Factor #2: Quality Assets
Often lost in the debate about GE stock is the company’s amazing set of assets. It’s important to keep in mind that roughly 70% of revenues and 85% of segment profits come from businesses that lead their markets. GE also has a massive footprint, with operations in over 180 countries.
For example, the aviation business has continued to post solid growth and should for years to come. The key has been R&D investments, which have resulted in standout systems like the LEAP engine.
Then there is the healthcare business. It has been posting stellar growth in emerging markets and has made nice inroads into life sciences and cell therapy. But there continues to be discipline, as seen with the healthy profit margins.
Bull Factor #3: Investor Sentiment
It seems that investor sentiment cannot get much worse with GE stock. Let’s face it, the shares have reached lows that are, well, kind of shocking.
Part of this has been from the actions of Flannery, who has been brutally honest about the company. During his investor presentation, he noted that 2018 will be a “reset” year, with adjusted earnings per share of $1 to $1.07. Note that the prior forecast had been for $2.
Yet Flannery is perhaps being overly conservative. Hey, this is something an incoming CEO can do to get expectations in line. In other words, as the restructuring takes hold, there could be some nice surprises for owners of GE stock.
In fact, insiders at the company are already betting on this with their own checkbooks. During the past couple months, directors and executives have bought a hefty $56 million in GE stock.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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