Sunday, April 13, 2008

I Have Dishonored My Ancestors: I Missed a Couple WSJ GE Posts

Swinging by the Online WSJ to grab the link to the post immediately below I saw two links on GE that I had missed on Friday.
I feel shame.
In an attempt at expiation I offer those, and a third*:

Mark Gongloff wrote, in the Ahead of the Tape column:

...Investors Are Missing GE's Energy Gusher

General Electric's stock has languished for years, mostly due to concerns about the company's huge financial arm. Investors should start to focus on another side of GE: energy.

GE's first-quarter earnings report Friday should show how the company's energy exposure is helping it weather the U.S. slowdown. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expect GE to post earnings of 51 cents a share, up 16% from a year ago.

The lion's share of GE's growth in recent years has come from its energy-centric infrastructure unit, which does most of its business outside the U.S. GE's revenue outside the U.S. gained 22% in 2007 from the previous year, according to Morningstar, driven by a 23% gain in its infrastructure segment. That compares with a 6% increase in the U.S....MORE

The WSJ's Deal Journal wrapped up (5:25 p.m.!) with:

The House That Jeff Split: Analyzing a GE Breakup

GE is so big that it seems a shame to measure the company in terms of market capitalization; it should get its own GDP. (Its $320 billion market cap today would put it somewhere between the GDPs of Denmark and Greece).

A company of that scale has a seismic effect on the markets. Consider: GE lost $40 billion loss in market capitalization over the course of a day, which Deal Journal wrote about as an “earnings grenade.” $40 billion in one day. Investors are angry. Analysts are frustrated. GE’s stock is now trading at levels seen as far back as 2001.

Is it time to accept that thing aren’t going well and consider a breakup?

For the sake of argument, let’s say it is finally time to slice and dice the House That Jack Built. Where do you start with a behemoth like this?

Analyst Scott Davis at Morgan Stanley ran an idea by CEO Jeff Immelt on today’s conference call (after comparing GE to the hapless Chicago Cubs): “Maybe GE Capital and GE Industrial shouldn’t be together anymore,” Davis said.

Immelt was conspicuously noncommital on the issue, responding: “No matter what form the company is in, it is about driving revenue growth, earnings growth…We will see when this year ends how we stack up against everybody else.”

Deal Journal took at look at GE’s major market segments and how investors might think about them if it comes to break-up time.

Finance: This has already been a hotbed of dealmaking for the company, and it’s fair to expect more restructuring in the form of sales, divestitures or even spinoffs...MORE

*Finally, the Journal does a public service by putting a link to the conference call transcript on the front page of the online paper.

I doubt that GE will be dismembering itself anytime soon, Mr. Immelt won't even get rid of NBC.
That said, the stock is cheap.

Although it doesn't remove my stain of disgrace we did have a couple posts on the energy/infrastructure business Friday, including one that said:

Spin it off, spin it off, spin it off.