New CEO John Flannery is trying to turn around the 125-year-old conglomerate, which on Friday, Oct. 20, reported quarterly earnings that he described as "unacceptable to say the least." Flannery took over in August from Jeff Immelt, who also departed as chairman earlier than expected.
One of Flannery's plans is divesting more than $20 billion in assets over the next two years. Most recently, the Wall Street Journal reported that GE's Transportation business could be sold or spun off. The unit generated revenue of $4.7 billion in 2016, compared to total company-wide revenue of $123.7 billion.
"Everything is on the table, and there have been no sacred cows," Flannery told analysts while discussing the planned divestitures. "Each GE business is being measured against a set of rigorous strategic and financial objectives."
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Flannery said at GE's Mind+Machines symposium on Wednesday, Oct. 26, that digital growth is critical to both GE's survival and that of every other industrial company. GE commissioned research indicating that 86% of industrial firms believe digital transformation is the key to their survival, but just 13% know how to bring it about.
"It's hard, but it's also fundamentally an existential issue for the industrial world," Flannery said. "It's no longer enough to build incredible machines. The company that just builds machines will not survive."
Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management LP is one of GE's major shareholders, with a 0.82% stake worth $1.5 billion. Peltz told TheStreet's Jim Cramer that he's confident that Flannery will right the ship over the next 18 to 24 months.
Trian, which recently narrowly lost a proxy fight with Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) - Get Report , added chief investment officer Ed Garden to GE's board earlier this month. The firm has been agitating at GE for more than two years.
GE shares are down 34.2% year to date, while the S&P has risen 15.3% in that time.