As most investors in the industrials space know, General Electric (NYSE:GE) is in the midst of a long transformation in which the formerly sprawling conglomerate is paring itself down to its core businesses. But as host Chris Hill and senior analyst Jason Moser note in this segment from MarketFoolery, that strategy means the remaining segments have even more weight to carry, and the company feels it more keenly when there's a problem in one of them. Thus, the recently revealed issues that power company Exelon (NYSE:EXC) has had with blades in GE's flagship model gas turbines loom even larger, and led JPMorgan to downgrade the stock. What do GE shareholders have to look forward to?
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Sept. 20, 2018.
Chris Hill: Shares of General Electric are down again today, this time on an analyst downgrade. This was not the typical, "Well, we think, we feel," kind of downgrade. This was specifically about concerns in GE's Power division, a gas turbine launch that looks like it's going to have a negative effect on earnings, at least in the next quarter, probably the next couple of quarters.
Jason Moser: Yeah, it's distinctly possible. I think if you're an owner of GE shares today, then you need to take CEO John Flannery's language very seriously when he says that they are in a multi-year transformational journey. In English, he's saying, "You'd better pack a lunch, because it's going to be a while." I think we've come to accept that, based on how many moving parts are still involved with this business. They're trying to shed certain assets and refocus and get the business back around its core in Aviation, Power, and Renewables. I like that move. I think that's the right strategy. The downside to that is, though, when you run into trouble in any one of those core segments, it really has a material impact on the business. I think we may see something like that play out here if there are indeed troubles with the turbine blades that were discovered from Exelon, I believe is the power company.
Flannery noted on the most recent call that the biggest challenge the company faces right now continues to be the turnaround of the Power of business. I think that tells us a lot. The core of the business is still, I don't want to say in trouble, but it sure is close. It requires a lot of working capital to operate. You look at their balance sheet today, to call it challenged is really an understatement. I think if you're going to be an investor in GE, you truly have to take a long-term outlook here. Understand that it's going to be three years before we see any real material progress.
I actually think that Flannery can do it. I think that he's probably the Alan Mulally for GE. I think if anybody can get this taken care of, he can. He's proven he's not scared to go in there and shake things up. We've seen them already shed a lot of assets in order to try to streamline this business and just get back to focusing on what they're really good at. But it's going to be a bumpy ride.
Hill: Give him credit for being as clear as he can possibly be. He's done that throughout 2018. He's just been very clear, like, "Look, this is what's going on. This is how long it's going to take. You can get on board if you want, but pack a lunch."
Moser: Yeah. That's just such a big advantage for investors. He is very transparent. You know what you're getting into. I feel like he's a no-BS kind of guy. He speaks to analysts very frankly on the calls, he gets out in front of things. I think that's a real strength that they're going to be able to benefit from in the coming years, if they're going to get this business turned around.