General Electric Receives French Blessing and Caterpillar's Sales Plunge Continues

Two industrial powerhouses are making headlines in the market today.

Jun 20, 2014 at 3:00PM

Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was trading 25 points higher, or 0.15%, by midafternoon after the index earlier hit a new record intraday high of 16,978.02 -- nearly reaching 17,000 for the first time in history. The S&P 500 was on pace to record its fourth weekly advance over the past five and was up 1.3% for the week. The Dow and Nasdaq this week are up 1.1% and 1.2%, respectively.

"There continues to be this hope that the economy improves, that growth improves. ... As long as there is modest upside, that is what generally investors are looking for that unfolds over time." said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Group, according to Reuters.

With that in mind, here are some industrial giants making headlines in the market today.

One of the biggest headlines developing right now is the newest twist in General Electric's (NYSE:GE) bid for part of France's Alstom. This ongoing saga, just short of a bidding war, filled with concessions and additional pledges by GE, is nearing an end.

The Wall Street Journal reported the most recent revised bid has Alstom selling its gas turbine business to GE and creating 50/50 joint ventures for Alstom's steam turbines and renewable energy businesses. Separately, General Electric will sell its train-signaling unit to Alstom for roughly 1 billion euros.

That appears to have finally won over the French government, which stepped in after General Electric's initial $16.9 billion bid. The Wall Street Journal just reported that the French government has given its blessing for General Electric to finalize the deal with Alstom. Before that takes place, the French government plans to buy a 20% stake in Alstom from Bouygues to secure the country's hold on bullet trains.

Alstom's board of directors will vote by Monday to decide if it prefers General Electric's bid over an offer led by Siemens. The board had favored GE's first proposal before the government stepped in, which should bode well for GE's chances of picking up the business that will fit very well with its industrial and energy portfolio.

In other Dow component news, Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) has released data showing that total machine retail sales during the three-month period ending in May were down 12%. 

The overall retail statistics were heavily pulled down by continued weakness in Caterpillar's Asia-Pacific market, where resource industry machine sales (which cover mining equipment) were down a stunning 69%. In the same business segment, Latin America's sales were also down 62% over the three months.

Still, despite sales woes, Caterpillar's stock price is up 19% year to date as investors remain hopeful that its mining machinery sales will rebound abroad over the next year. As you can see in the chart below, a rebound in mining business could significantly boost Caterpillar's resource industries segment, and that would be a huge help for its overall business prospects.

Graph by author. Information Source: Caterpillar's 10Q reports.

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Daniel Miller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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