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GE Rebounds as Wall Street Pushes Back Against Allegations

Esha Dey
GE Rebounds as Wall Street Pushes Back Against Allegations

(Bloomberg) -- General Electric Co. shares bounced back on Friday after a brutal rout Thursday as Wall Street analysts defended the industrial conglomerate against allegations from a prominent financial examiner and reiterated their faith in the chief executive officer.

Shares rose as much as 9.2%, following Thursday’s 11% decline, which marked the steepest drop since 2008. William Blair analyst Nicholas Heymann questioned whether the whistleblower report is “the last Molotov cocktail” and said he does not believe GE’s financial statements purposely misrepresented the company’s financial condition and potential liabilities.

The report’s effort to portray GE’s financial condition with an assumption that charges worth about $38 billion should have been previously recognized was “at best disingenuous and at worst highly inaccurate,” he wrote.

Harry Markopolos, who was involved in exposing the frauds of investment manager Bernie Madoff, said in a report on Thursday that GE would need to raise its insurance reserves immediately by $18.5 billion in cash -- plus an additional non-cash charge of $10.5 billion when new accounting rules take effect. He also claimed that GE was hiding a loss of more than $9 billion on its holdings in Baker Hughes.

Markopolos said that the company’s cash situation was “far worse than disclosed in their 2018” annual report.

Citi analyst Andrew Kaplowitz said there were “sufficient shortcomings” in the report itself, and that he continued to believe in CEO Larry Culp’s ability to improve the company. Some of the allegations made in the report were already known and others were “known unknowns,” the analyst said, adding that the Baker Hughes write-off was already expected.

Baker Hughes shares also rose as much as 2.1% on Friday in New York.

The resurgence in GE shares on Friday will also mean some gains for Culp, who bought $2 million of GE stock on Thursday, a move that reflected “high conviction that the allegations do not represent incremental unknown challenges,” Citi’s Kaplowitz said. Baker Hughes’ Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Simonelli also bought $309,081 of shares in the oil and gas services provider yesterday.

(Updates share move in second paragraph; adds stock purchases by GE, Baker Hughes CEOs in eighth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Esha Dey in New York at edey@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brad Olesen at bolesen3@bloomberg.net, Will Daley, Scott Schnipper

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