General Electric (GE) rallied by nearly 4% Friday after beating analysts' reduced earnings estimates, but the industrial conglomerate still seems like an opaque, non-analyzable collection of unrelated companies to me. Analyzing GE properly would probably require a full-time analyst -- and even then, it might not be possible because of the company's non-transparent operating results.
Given GE's poor execution of strategy and accumulation of far-flung subsidiaries, it appears to me that this is a company that can't manage itself. Its sphere of influence still might be too broad and its hodgepodge of unrelated businesses too disparate to effectively run.
I actually did fairly well in the "good old days" of 2007-08 shorting quite a lot of GE, as I had a number of issues with the stock at the time, including some significant concerns about the company's accounting. But as with publicly traded Chinese companies, GE's lack of transparency and poor disclosure policies are a non-starter for me in terms of getting involved on the long side.
For now, my advice is that whenever a discussion of GE hits the business-news airwaves, turn the channel to ESPN or The View. And be sure to keep your children away from any analyst who professes to have a clear vision of General Electric's current results or future prospects. There's simply no "there there" for the company -- nor for those analysts who contend that they're able to properly assess the stock.
(A version of this column originally appeared at 7:17 a.m. ET on Real Money Pro, our premium site for active traders and Wall Street professionals. Click here to get great columns like this from Doug Kass, Jim Cramer and other experts even earlier in the trading day. This piece has also been updated with GE's closing stock price.)