The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI ) was trading 44 points higher, or 0.27%, by midafternoon after investors digested a mix of good and bad economic data. The negative news was that first-quarter U.S. gross domestic product expanded slower than expected at a 0.1% annual rate. That's the slowest annual pace since the fourth quarter of 2012 and was a sharp decline sequentially from the previous quarter's 2.6% growth.
"There's no hiding the fact the GDP number is a disappointment, but even though it came much lower than expectations it's getting a hall pass because we are expecting to have a better second quarter," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, according to Reuters. "The market is focusing on what economic data is telling us about Q2 and there's a reason to believe the demand loss was more weather-related than anything,"
It will be important to see a rebound in GDP as the economy distances itself from the harsh winter weather. With that in mind, here are some companies making headlines today.
Inside the Dow, General Electric (NYSE: GE ) is making big moves to continue strengthening its industrial portfolio by formally offering to acquire the Alstom's thermal, renewables, and grid business for a net $13.5 billion, after subtracting the cash Alstom will hold at the deal's close. Alstom's board of directors has positively received General Electric's offer, though the deal is still subject to an official approval by the board, along with shareholders and regulators.
General Electric's offer is valued at 7.9 times enterprise value/EBITDA multiple. The company expects the acquisition to be accretive to earnings in the first year, adding $0.08 to $0.10 per share in earnings in 2016. This move makes a lot of sense as the company continues to distance itself from its GE Capital business and works to improve its root industrial and power business. GE has proven it can acquire companies and create strong synergies with its other opportunities and core businesses.
"This is a strategic transaction that furthers GE's portfolio strategy. Power & Water is one of our higher growth and margin industrial segments and is core to the future of GE. Alstom, like GE, is a company built on engineering, innovation and technology." said Jeff Immelt, GE chairman and CEO, according to StreetInsider.com. "We respect and value the deep industry and technology expertise of Alstom employees and expect them to add to our proven track record of developing talent and leadership in France and globally."
Also inside the Dow, Boeing (NYSE: BA ) was trading slightly higher after Ryanair Holdings agreed to buy five additional 737-800s, which brings the total value of Ryanair's order to more than $16 billion at list prices. Ryanair's order will now cover 21 jets and will boost the discount carrier's order book to 180 jets as it seeks to increase passenger numbers while reducing fleet age.
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