General Electric’s Awful Q3 Earnings Just the Tip of the Iceberg

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No matter how you look at it, General Electric Co.’s (NYSE: GE) third-quarter earnings report was nothing short of awful. The stock traded down more than 6% in Friday’s premarket after the company missed profit estimates and lowered its full-year earnings estimate by nearly a third.

Restructuring and impairment charges cost GE $0.16 per share in earnings during the quarter, and if the past is any guide to the future, those charges are likely to continue in the fourth quarter and into next year after new CEO John Flannery reveals his strategy and updates the company’s financial targets on November 13.

During the quarter, GE closed the $3.4 billion sale of its water and process technologies business to Suez and agreed to sell is industrial solutions business to ABB for $2.6 billion. As for cost cutting, Flannery has taken some small steps — cutting the corporate aircraft fleet and stopping the practice of providing cars to executives — but these are window dressing for the job cuts that are certain to come next.

The conglomerate reported third-quarter diluted net earnings per share (EPS) Friday morning of $0.21 on revenues of $33.47 billion. In the same period a year ago, GE reported EPS of $0.22 on revenues of $29.27 billion. Third-quarter results compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.49 on revenues of $32.56 billion.

On top of the lackluster results, GE lowered its full-year EPS estimate from a prior range of $1.60 to $1.70 to a new range of $1.05 to $1.10. Analysts were expecting EPS of $1.53 and revenues of $125.52 billion.

Flannery said:

Throughout our 125-year history GE has been known as a company that combines innovation and technology with execution intensity to produce outstanding results for our customers and shareowners. We are focused on redefining our culture, running our businesses better, and reducing our complexity. I look forward to meeting with investors in November to update them on our progress.

On the company’s and analysts’ preferred basis of comparison, industrial operating and verticals, earnings fell 11%, from $2.87 billion in the third quarter of 2016 to $2.55 billion and adjusted EPS fell 9%, to $0.29.

Revenues in the oil and gas segment rose 81% year over year in the quarter from $2.96 billion to $5.37 billion, reflecting the inclusion of Baker Hughes. The Baker Hughes acquisition also accounted for the 14.4% increase in the company’s consolidated revenues.

Power segment revenues fell 4% to $8.68 billion and profits tumbled a staggering 51%. In its presentation, GE referred to “ongoing business challenges” in the power segment as one of its key fourth-quarter items.

Renewable energy revenues were up 5% to $2.91 billion and profits rose 27% to $257 million. Operating profit margin rose 1.5 points to 8.8%.

Revenues in the company’s aviation segment sales rose 8% at $6.82 billion and profits rose 12% to $1.68 billion. Operating profit margin rose 0.9 points to 24.6%.

The health care segment saw revenues rise 5% to $4.72 billion, with profits of $820 million (up 14%) and operating margin up 1.4 points to 17.4%.

Operating cash flow from GE’s continuing industrial operations, adjusted to exclude deal taxes and pension plan funding, fell from $2.9 billion to $1.74 billion year over year in the quarter.

GE also noted that its backlog during the quarter rose 3% year over year to $328 billion. Of that total $243.7 billion is services backlog and $84.3 billion is equipment.

Shares traded down about 6.8% in Friday’s premarket session, at $22.00, below the 52-week range of $22.83 to $32.38. The stock closed up nearly 2% on Thursday at $23.58. The 12-month consensus price target was $27.80 before results were announced.