General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) dropped heavily again on Friday following a Deutsche Bank report which questioned if the manufacturing behemoth’s latest problems will force it to raise cash through share sales or further reducing the dividend.
The company is facing a “cash squeeze” as well as growing debt pressures, especially after disclosing a substantial charge related to an old insurance business, Deutsche Bank analyst John Inch noted Friday. There’s a high probability of “additional unforeseen cash events” that could undermine the lending unit’s already-poor financial position, he said.
“Ongoing liquidity pressures and significant remaining GE Capital risks may make an equity capital raise unavoidable,” he said. Given the possibility of additional share declines, NYSE:GE may need to take such action “sooner while its stock is still elevated.”
The Boston-based company said it has no plans to raise new capital and has already taken steps to shore up its cash position, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson. GE, which will report earnings Jan. 24, said this week that industrial cash flow for 2017 will be above its earlier estimate. The company could also further reduce its dividend, Inch said, after cutting the shareholder payout in half in November.
GE fell 3% to $16.26 on Friday, sending the shares to their worst weekly decline since the depths of the recession in March 2009. The bonds slid too, continuing a week-long drop. GE’s 4.5 % notes due 2044 dropped 4.5 cents on the dollar this week to 105 cents, according to Trace bond price data.
A more-than-expected, $6.2 billion charge and comments made by CEO John Flannery about the possible need to break the company up reignited investors’ fears this week after the year began with a somewhat modest rally. GE, the biggest loser by far in the Dow Jones Industrial Average last year saw it struggled with weak demand for many of its industrial products, from gas turbines to locomotives to oilfield equipment.
The firm also said this week that it was setting aside $15 billion in the coming years to buffer the reserves on a legacy insurance portfolio largely focused on long-term care policies. The latest disclosures suggest the value of the GE Capital business may be negative, Jeff Sprague, an analyst with Vertical Research Partners, said on Friday.