GE CEO Talks Cash Flow, Investors Flee

Print Email

In a presentation Tuesday at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Industrials Conference, General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) CEO H. Lawrence Culp Jr. offered investors another dismal year for free cash flow in the company’s industrial division and investors responded by taking the shares down nearly 8%.  Just as was the case last year, the sins of the company’s power segment will dog profits and cash flow in 2019.

GE’s industrial division saw free cash flow tumble by 80% in 2018 to just $2.23 billion on a GAAP basis. On an adjusted basis, free cash flow in the industrial group came in at $4.5 billion, and Culp said to expect negative free cash flow this year.

Culp’s presentation itemized the 2019 cash flow headwinds as “legacy projects and structure, reversal of PTC cycle, [and] supply chain finance transition.” He also said it expected the effects of these headwinds to “meaningfully lessen” in 2020 and 2021.

On the plus side, Culp said the company is making progress on its strategy of reducing debt and improving its financial position, beginning with the company’s power segment. In 2018 the company wrung out $910 million power segment costs reduced its footprint by 30%. This year, Culp said, GE will be taking unspecified “additional actions.”

The company’s healthcare segment had a good year in 2018 and Culp said he expects global markets to remain “strong.” In the aviation segment, the company has worked out the kinks with its LEAP jet engine and markets in this sector also remain “strong.”

Culp said that the company will present its outlook for the year on March 14. Today’s presentation, though, mostly let the cat out of the bag.

Shares have recovered somewhat, trading at $9.84, down about 5.2% at last look. The stock’s 52-week range is $6.40 to $14.99 and the 12-month consensus price target is $12.62.

I'm interested in the Newsletter