General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) shares tumbled by more than 11% last week following Monday’s investor presentation by CEO John Flannery. The collapse solidified GE’s position as the worst performing equity on the Dow Jones Industrial Average index, with a year-to-date loss of nearly 41%.
This is GE’s 18th consecutive week as the Dow’s worst performer. The company still has a big lead over the second worst stock, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), down 14.9% for the year, and third-worst Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM), now down 11.1%. Only eight of the 30 Dow stocks have traded down so far this year.
With the exception of a sharp rise on Thursday, the Dow had a tough week. The Thursday jump stanched the bleeding and the index only dropped about 27 points last week while at its low point it was down around 130 points.
Bright and early Monday morning GE announced a 50% cut to its dividend, lowering the quarterly payout to $0.24 per share and slashing its dividend yield to around 2.3%. GE made it clear that it could no longer support the higher dividend from its cash flow and said it made the decision in order to drive total shareholder return.
Flannery’s presentation went into some detail on what steps the company planned to take in order to get back on track. He called 2018 a “reset year,” probably referring primarily to his plans to chop some $20 billion in assets.
The most likely prospects to go are the light-bulb business, the locomotive business and the oilfield services business it recently acquired with Baker Hughes. GE has already agreed to sell its industrial services business to ABB for $2.6 billion and will count that as part of the asset sale total.
There is also trouble in the company’s Power segment and that drove Moody’s to cut GE’s senior unsecured debt rating by one notch to A2. In itself, the ratings cut is not a big problem, but unless GE can turn its Power business around, more cuts are possible.
GE’s shares closed down about 0.2% Friday, at $18.21 in a 52-week range of $17.46 to $32.38. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $23.53, down nearly $1.50 from last week’s target. The price target range remains $17 to $36.