Why General Electric Earnings Won't Move the Needle Much (Updated)

General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) reported second quarter 2017 results before markets opened Friday morning. The conglomerate reported an expectedly difficult report to analyze. Its diluted earnings per share (EPS) was $0.15 from operations, but the adjusted earnings was reported as $0.28 per share. This was on revenues of $29.6 billion. In the same period a year ago, GE reported EPS of $0.51 on revenues of $33.49 billion. Second-quarter results compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.25 on revenues of $29.02 billion.

NOTE: This story has been updated.

On the company’s and analysts’ preferred basis of comparison, industrial operating and verticals earnings fell 48%, from $4.68 billion in the second quarter of 2016 to $2.42 billion and adjusted EPS fell 45%, to $0.28.

Revenues in the oil & gas segment fell 3% year over year in the quarter from $3.22 billion to $3.11 billion. Energy connections revenue fell 27% to $3.21 billion and renewable energy revenues were up 17% to $3.11 billion.

Revenues in the company’s power segment rose 5% to $6.97 billion and aviation segment sales were flat at $6.53 billon. The healthcare segment saw revenues rise 4% to $4.7 billion and transportation segment revenues fell 14% to $1.07 billion.

Operating cash flow from GE’s continuing industrial operations, adjusted to exclude deal taxes and pension plan funding, rose from $65 million to $1.47 billion year over year in the quarter. On a GAAP basis, cash flow from operations rose 12% from $2.87 billion a year ago to $3.22 billion.

GE also noted that its backlog during the quarter rose 2% year over year to $326.8 billion. Of that total $242.6 billion is services backlog and $84.2 billion is equipment.

CEO Jeff Immelt said:

We expect cash flow to continue to improve throughout the year. We’ve reduced our Industrial structural costs year to date by $670 million and we are on track to meet or exceed our $1 billion cost reduction target for the year. The global scale of the Company, along with our ability to innovate industry-leading products and services, will help us navigate the current environment and unlock productivity across our businesses and markets.

Immelt gives up the CEO job to John Flannery on August 1 but will remain as chairman until the end of the year when he retires.

GE continues to forecast  2017 adjusted EPS in the range of $1.60 to $1.70. Analysts have forecast third-quarter EPS of $0.53 on revenues of $32.29 billion. For the 2017 fiscal year the current consensus calls for EPS of $1.62 on revenues of $125.31 billion.

Shares initially traded up about 0.1% in Friday’s premarket session at $26.71, but then they were shown to be down by 0.9% at $26.45 at about 8:30 Eastern Time.

UPDATE — GE’s CFO said that its earnings were trending at the lower end of its 2017 range based on power and oil and gas. GE also said that its new CEO will issue a portfolio review in mid-November and that is when GE will update its 2018 earnings guidance.

GE shares were last seen down 4.7% at $35.45 right after the opening bell and the stock was trading at a new 52-week low. That is versus a prior 52-week range of $25.85 to $32.38.

The stock closed down 0.9% on Thursday at $26.69. The 12-month consensus price target was $31.00 before results were announced.

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