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GE's shares fall as supply-chain woes hit Q4 revenue

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·3 min read
General Electric logo is seen through magnifier in front of displayed Aviation, Energy, Healthcare words in this illustration taken
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By Rajesh Kumar Singh

CHICAGO (Reuters) -General Electric Co on Tuesday reported a decline in quarterly revenue amid persistent global supply chain disruptions, sending its shares lower.

The Boston-based industrial conglomerate's shares also suffered because of a confusion caused by its new reporting format, which the company moved to after selling its jet-leasing business and folding its capital business into its corporate operations.

Jeff Windau, an analyst at Edward Jones, said the difference in numbers under the old and new formats has left the trading community confused.

"Today's weakness is the result of a less-than-clean quarterly report," Windau said.

GE's shares were down 7% at $90.03 in mid-day trade.

Tuesday's earnings report added to investor worries about supply shortages and inflationary pressure.

GE said it was grappling with supply-chain issues across all of its businesses, but the problem remained most acute at its healthcare unit.

They are driving up its transportation and raw materials costs, adversely impacting its onshore wind business.

In response, the company is raising prices and trying to keep a lid on costs. It is scouting for new suppliers, sourcing alternative parts and redesigning product configurations.

But Chief Executive Larry Culp said a resolution remains elusive.

"I don't see the brink of a resolution just yet," he told Reuters in an interview. "We will see a little bit more inflation pressure in 2022."

Culp said while GE is doing a better job in adjusting its prices, the company is finding it harder to pass along the increased costs in longer-cycle businesses such as power and renewables.

As a result, he said the company will not be able to fully offset higher costs with price increases.

GE is not alone. Companies of all sizes are grappling with inflationary pressures as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused bottlenecks in supply chains, driving up costs for everything from labor to raw materials.

Shares of GE's rival Siemens Energy have been tumbling since the German company's wind power division Siemens Gamesa cut its financial outlook for the third time in nine months on supply chain issues and a surge in costs for vital materials such as steel.

GE's onshore wind business is also taking a hit from lingering uncertainty over whether U.S. production tax credits for onshore wind investments will be extended over the long term.

Windau of Edward Jones has lowered estimates for GE's 2022 earnings as he expects its renewable energy business to be more pressured this year.

Culp said the company has work to do in fixing the business.

EARNINGS OUTLOOK

GE, which has announced it will split into three public companies, expects to return to revenue growth this year on the back of a more than 20% increase in aviation revenue.

It also forecast higher profit and free cash flow for 2022. But it expects to burn cash in the first quarter, which tends to be the company's weakest quarter.

The 2022 earnings estimates are based on GE's new reporting format.

GE expects adjusted profit in the range of $2.80 per share to $3.50 per share in 2022, compared with $1.71 per share last year. Full-year free cash flow is estimated at $5.5 billion-$6.5 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2021.

In its new format, the group will no longer report GE Capital, its financial services division, as a standalone business segment.

The company generated $20.3 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter, down 3% from a year ago and below the $21.5 billion estimated by analysts surveyed by Refinitiv.

Under the old format, GE's adjusted earnings for the quarter came in at 92 cents per share, beating the consensus estimate of 85 cents a share.

(additional reporting credit to Ashwini Raj in Bengaluru; Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; editing by Jan Harvey, Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)