General Electric Takes Over as DJIA’s Worst Stock of 2017

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When General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reported earnings before markets opened Friday morning, the share price actually rose in the premarket session. By the time the day was over, GE’s shares closed down 2.9% at a new 52-week low and the company’s year-to-date loss came in at a tick over 18%.

GE replaced the DJIA’s long-time leading loser, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), which has lost 17.14% of its value since the beginning of the year.

The trouble really didn’t start for GE until the company’s conference call, when it said that profits for the year would be at the low end of its projected range of $1.60 to $1.70 per share. As if on cue, the stock dropped 4%.

Another problem for GE is free cash flow. The company posted $1.5 billion in free cash flow (cash flow from operations minus capital spending) in the second quarter, offsetting a negative free cash flow of $1.6 billion in the first quarter.

But the company has forecast free cash flow of $12 to $14 billion for the year — and it’s still at the starting line with the year half over.

Jeff Immelt’s term as CEO ends on July 31 and new CEO John Flannery takes over the next day. Immelt will continue as chairman until the end of the year.

GE’s shares closed down 2.9% Friday at $25.91 in a 52-week range of $25.26 to $32.38 and, as we noted, the low was posted Friday. The consensus 12-month price target for the stock is $31.00. Nearly 91 million GE shares changed hands yesterday.