Why 2 Firms Are Very Cautious and Concerned Over GE Ratings and Targets

Chris Lange

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) stands at a crossroads. On one hand, an independent research firm is calling for the stock to rise by over 15% in the next year, and on the other hand two analysts are seeing the stock fall as much in that time. As we have already addressed the positive outlook for GE, we can explore the negative perspective in reports from Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan.

John Inch and Karen Lau of Deutsche Bank maintained a Hold rating, as well as setting the price target at $28, implying a downside of about 11%.

The investment bank noted that GE reported adjusted second-quarter earnings per share (EPS) of $0.51, which exceeded the adjusted consensus forecast of $0.46. However, the results were relatively low quality. They were helped by $0.06 from lower corporate costs that included $0.02 of lower restructuring charges, while lower taxes also added $0.01 versus the estimate. Industrial organic growth was down 1%. Within operations, Oil & Gas missed the target by $0.01, while the other penny was spread among the other segments.

As GE is a long cycle equipment company, Deutsche Bank expects bad orders to show up in challenged future sales results, which does cast some doubt on the company’s future estimates.

JPMorgan’s Stephen Tusa and team have an Underweight rating for GE, as well as a new price target of $26, down from $27. The team remains concerned over non-operating items, weakness in oil and gas and in transportation, margins in aviation and engines, weak equipment orders and cash flow from ongoing operations.

The brokerage firm is also concerned that the $2.00 EPS target for 2018 was based on organic growth that may have been too ambitious when trends have weakened. JPMorgan’s 2018 target is now just $1.75 EPS, which would be viewed and treated quite differently in the GE share price if every analyst felt this way.

The firm does think that GE will find a way to get to its goal, but it may have to come from tax or M&A, or more Chinese buying of assets and the like. JPMorgan’s note is actually all negative on every aspect of the company, and it should be pointed out that JPMorgan actually has the lowest analyst price target on GE shares of any other brokerage firm that makes official price targets.

Shares of GE were last seen down nearly 2% to $31.44. The consensus analyst price target is $33.36, and the 52-week trading range of $19.37 to $33.00.