Shares of industrial giant General Electric (GE 1.90%) shot up 5% as of 3:05 p.m. EDT Thursday on news that the company will make its largest acquisition in at least three years.
Ultrasound maker BK Medical, "a leader in advanced surgical visualization," is the target, said GE in a press release.
GE will ante up $1.45 billion in cash for the acquisition, and will incorporate BK Medical into GE's $3 billion healthcare business. While ultrasounds are most often used to diagnose conditions, BK Medical's products are used to show surgeons what is happening within a patient's body prior to surgery, and "to guide clinicians during minimally invasive and robotic surgeries," offering "real-time surgical visualization."
As for what the transaction means to GE, the company advised that it expects BK Medical to deliver rapid revenue growth as well as margin expansion and free cash flow growth." Within five years of the purchase, GE anticipates earning a "high-single-digit return on invested capital."
To put those assertions in context, GE has suffered from declining revenue for five straight years, although its profit margins have begun recovering from the pandemic year of 2020 this year. The company's healthcare division is already its strongest performer, delivering a 17% operating profit margin last year. Free cash flow at GE is positive again -- about $700 million -- but a little more wouldn't hurt. Probably the best news from this announcement, though, is management's conviction that BK Medical will deliver strong returns on investment capital.
According to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, GE's ROIC number for the last 12 months is just 0.5%.