Last month, as you may recall, JPMorgan sparked a rally in GE stock when it withdrew its sell rating on GE shares for the first time in more than two years, saying investors finally knew enough about GE's potential bad news to make an informed decision about whether to buy or sell the stock.
Today, JPMorgan explained how the situation might clarify even further, saying we may be approaching the time when GE will resume looking like a more "normal" company, generating positive free cash flow from its business and getting a handle on its "$100 billion of net liabilities."
Mind you, JPMorgan isn't saying we have reached that point yet. The analyst still sees GE's mammoth debt load, and its lack of free cash flow, as serious problems that need to be overcome. But JP also thinks that if GE gets serious about taking "more tangible" steps to fix its business, "perhaps shrinking the balance sheet," for example, then the company should become easier to value.
Another thing to bear in mind, though, is that GE investors (who are buying the stock hand over fist today) might not be entirely pleased with GE's value once it becomes clear. A full "cleanse" of the company's accounting structure, warns JP, could yield a "substantially lower run rate fundamental anchor than many appreciate."
Thus, while many investors are jumping on JP's comments today as an excuse to bid up GE stock as high as $8.70 and more, JPMorgan itself is still not comfortable assigning the shares anything more than a neutral rating and a $6 target price.
Momentum buyer beware.