J.P. Morgan cut its 12-month price target on General Electric to just $6 a share on Friday, the lowest on Wall Street.
“The outcome of GE results was worse than expected on almost all fronts,” J.P. Morgan’s Stephen Tusa said of the company’s third-quarter earnings. “While liquidity is certainly debatable, we believe this is not really about liquidity, it’s about a deterioration in run rate fundamentals.”
GE reported profits on Oct. 30 that were sharply below Wall Street forecasts. Moreover, GE slashed its quarterly dividend to a penny a share in a dramatic move under new Chairman and CEO Larry Culp. While the dividend cut will free up cash for GE, the overall results gave J.P. Morgan confidence to cut to $6 a share “based on clarity of the new numbers,” Tusa said.
Shares of GE closed down 5.7 percent at $8.58 a share in Friday trading. The stock plunged as far as $8.15 a share earlier in the day, hitting the lowest level in nearly a decade.
“While the stock is down ~70% from the peak of $30, this move still does not sufficiently reflect the fundamental facts, in our view,” Tusa said.
GE expects to “fall short of previously indicated guidance” for full-year 2018 earnings, the company said when it announced the removal of John Flannery as CEO. But Culp did not provide an update to the forecast, which was previously expected $1 to $1.07 in full-year 2018 earnings. While GE’s results for this year may be lower, Tusa expects the next two years of earnings will be even worse. His analysis estimates earnings of 35 cents a share in 2019 and 41 cents a share in 2020 — both of which are about half of Wall Street’s expectations for GE’s future profits.
“Out of the 8 reported segments, all of which were profitable even 2 years ago, 6 are now likely either at or below zero in 2020, with leverage actually up since that time,” Tusa wrote in a note. “In other words, we estimate material dilution from weak fundamentals and portfolio moves, with little in return, going against the notion from a year ago that the company could get $20 [billion] in value without diluting the run rate of earnings/FCF.”
Flannery’s 13-month tenure saw him focus on turning the company around through trimming down to three core businesses. Culp focused on the company’s ailing power business in his first month at GE’s helm. Culp called for “accountability across the organization to deliver better results” during the latest earning report, emphasizing a continuing need to rebuild GE. But Tusa expressed skepticism about those rebuilding efforts, saying the company’s results “appear to go against the notion that there is ‘lots of restructuring’ going on here.”
The restructuring is “far from a ‘kitchen sink'” situation, where all the company’s bad news comes out at once, Tusa said. Despite this view, Tusa said his current estimate “is not the worst case scenario.”
“While hard to imagine two years ago, and even harder to imagine a mere two months ago, the cuts to the model, and generous approach to 2020, using a sector average multiple, results in a stock value of $6,” Tusa said.