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GE’s 2019 Gain Is the Best Since the Early Days of Jack Welch

Richard Clough
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GE’s 2019 Gain Is the Best Since the Early Days of Jack Welch

(Bloomberg) -- Larry Culp is bringing some Jack Welch mojo back to General Electric Co.’s stock.

The beaten-down shares soared 53% in 2019, Culp’s first full year as chief executive officer. With the close of trading Tuesday, the annual performance was GE’s best since the beginning of Welch’s CEO tenure almost four decades ago.

It’s a sharp turnaround for the company, which has been rocked by several years of management turmoil, deteriorating cash flow and flagging demand for key products. Since taking the helm in October 2018, Culp has sought to bolster the balance sheet and regain investor confidence.

The shares closed Tuesday at $11.16 after ending 2018 at $7.28. The one-year gain was the best since 1982, when GE rose 65%.

To be sure, the stock was poised for a big bounce after starting 2019 well below recent highs. It’s recovered only a portion of the $214 billion in market cap losses accumulated during 2017 and 2018.

Nonetheless, GE managed a mostly steady year that avoided the missteps of the recent past. Culp made changes to the company’s portfolio in 2019 while tackling debt and cash flow concerns. He also navigated a bumpy few weeks after financial investigator Harry Markopolos accused the company of fraud -- accusations the company has denied.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Clough in New York at rclough9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Case at bcase4@bloomberg.net, Susan Warren, Tony Robinson

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