Over the last decade or more no company has been more meticulous about its earnings forecasts than GE (GE). The conglomerate even talks freely about its prospects between its quarterly conference calls and occasional analyst meetings.
Now, even GE may have to admit that the economy is so badly crippled that with businesses stretched across much of the industrial and services sectors and around the world, it can no longer see the future of its own operations clearly.
According to The Wall Street Journal, when GE meets with Wall St. today, "One change analysts suspect may be coming: a decision to stop offering quarterly earnings forecasts."
The move would be a profound admission that even the largest and most sophisticated of corporations has lost its way. If GE expected even modest stability in the economy taking a measure as drastic as saying that it cannot see one quarter ahead would be unthinkable.
The move should cause special concern because so much of GE’s business and revenue is determined long before earnings are announced. Many of its big ticket items are ordered months, and in some cases years, in advance of when they show up as sales.
If GE takes the measure of suspending guidance it is almost certainly a signal that it sees, or does not see, the worst ahead in both the US and overseas economies.
If, with all of its management prowess and analytic expertise, GE cannot see around the corner, who can?
Douglas A. McIntyre