General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) was not included in the 24/7 Wall St. top analyst upgrades and downgrades on Wednesday, but a key upgrade has been issued. Bernstein raised its rating to Outperform after having had a prior Market Perform rating. Here is where the call gets very interesting: Bernstein raised its price target to $33 from $29. Bernstein is calling GE an uncommon and underappreciated value stock in this call.
Bernstein has signaled that the recent developments in the GE total portfolio will make it more of an industrial focused company than it has been in about 25 years. This pertains to the trimming of the Synchrony Financial (NYSE: SYF) spin-out, the Alstom acquisition in Europe and the potential sale or jettison of the GE Appliances unit.
Bernstein believes that a revaluation can now take place. GE has for years wanted to be valued as an industrial conglomerate rather than being valued as a conglomerate that is also weighed down by a massive consumer finance unit. Bernstein’s take is that this could allow GE to move back above $30, a level not seen since before the recession.
Another driver is that all of the moves will allow GE to trim out yet another $1 billion or so in internal operating costs. Bernstein feels that GE has been under-owned by institutions and that they have not realized the magnitude of changes taking place in GE.
What investors need to pay attention to here is the magnitude of this upgrade. Bernstein was already at $29 in its price target, and now its $33 price target matches the street’s highest analyst price target. The consensus price target is closer to $29.75.
It was just last weekend that we pointed out how GE’s stock chart was entering a very crucial phase. The stock price was violating its 200-day moving average to the downside for the first time in years. We even counted six prior runs to test the 200-day moving average, all of which ended up in recoveries.
Another consideration is that GE originally reacted well with its latest earnings report. The earnings and backlog looked good, but then the Synchrony IPO failed to draw what the company hoped for on the upside and a market slide came on that was too strong for the stock to be able to escape.
GE shares were back up more than 1% to $25.39 in late morning trading Wednesday, and its 52-week trading range is $22.92 to $28.09. The new price target implies upside of about 32%, plus there is that dividend yield of more than 3% to add into the total return.
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