What happened

Shares of General Electric (NYSE:GE) fell as much as 7.7% in early trading Tuesday before recovering to close the day down 4.7%. The reason: Comments this morning by CEO Larry Culp at the J.P. Morgan Aviation, Transportation & Industrials Conference in New York sent GE stock into free fall.

Man in suit with fingers in his ears

GE is talking again, and investors don't like what they're hearing. Image source: Getty Images.

So what

What exactly did Culp say that frightened investors so much? According to TheFly.com, he said that GE is anticipating "significant" headwinds to growing cash flow in 2019, which will "meaningfully lessen" cash production this year. Industrial free cash flow in particular will be "in negative territory" all year long.

The news wasn't all bad. Organic revenue growth should be in the low to mid single digits this year, with GE's healthcare business in particular growing revenues -- but not profit margins. Aviation profit margins are also expected to be flat, but the company's core industrial operations will expand profit margins somewhat.

On the other hand, GE's power business will see sales flat to down slightly this year, and be a significant source of cash consumption due to ill-considered legacy contracts that the company still needs to work through.

Check out the latest earnings call transcript for GE.

Now what

It remains to be seen what exact numbers GE is targeting this year, but given the reaction on Wall Street, analysts present at the conference appear to be losing confidence that GE will hit their projections for the year: $118.4 billion in revenue, and $0.70 in EPS.

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