New GE Chief Vows Sweeping Change. General Electric Co.’s new CEO declared “sweeping change” as he gave a brutal assessment of the 125-year-old company.
Results for the last quarter are “completely unacceptable,” Chief Executive Officer John Flannery told investors on Friday as he slashed the profit forecast and pledged to unload $20 billion of GE (NYSE:GE) businesses. “We need to make some major changes with urgency and a depth of purpose.”
John Flannery, who took over Jeffrey Immelt’s long-time post less than three months ago, is plotting a dramatic overhaul at the maker of jet engines and ultrasound machines. Flannery is looking for deeper cost cuts and investors are bracing to see if GE (NYSE:GE) cuts its dividend for only the second time since the Great Depression.
“Everything is on the table,” Flannery said on a conference call to discuss quarterly earnings. “Things will not stay the same at GE.”
Profits Miss Expectations
Earnings this year are expected to be $1.05 to $1.10 a share, down from the previous range of $1.60 to $1.70 a share. Analysts had anticipated $1.54 a share, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
There was a decline in adjusted profit to 29 cents a share for the third quarter, falling well short of the 50-cent average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. GE (NYSE:GE) hasn’t missed estimates by more than half a cent in over nine years.
EPS was dented by restructuring and impairment charges, as well as a sharp decline in profit at the power-generation division.
GE cut $500 million in costs during the quarter, bringing the 2017 total to $1.2 billion, which the company said is ahead of its original plans.
Sales fell 3.5 percent in GE Power, the world’s largest maker of gas turbines, as profit plummeted by more than half.
Flannery announced several top management changes this month, including naming a new chief financial officer. Jamie Miller, the current head of the GE Transportation unit, will assume the CFO role from Jeff Bornstein in the coming weeks.
The appointment of Ed Garden, a founding partner of Trian, to GE’s board this month marked a victory for the activist firm, which had pledged to hold management accountable. Trian, co-founded by Nelson Peltz, became one of GE’s largest shareholders when it took a $2.5 billion stake in 2015.
Investors are bracing for a possible dividend cut. Though GE (NYSE:GE) has said the payout remains a top priority, a dividend reduction has already been priced into the stock, Susquehanna derivative strategist Chris Jacobson said in a note.
Following Friday’s results, it is “increasingly likely some cut is coming” to the dividend, Robert McCarthy, an analyst at Stifel Financial Corp., said in a note.
There were highlights however. GE Aviation, which is increasing production on a new jet engine range, increased revenue 8.1 percent. The health-care division, which Flannery led before being picked to succeed Immelt, boosted sales 5.4 percent.