General Electric Co. (GE) rose on Wednesday, Oct. 31, after UBS upgraded the beleaguered industrial conglomerate, citing its conviction that newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp can lead a turnaround.
UBS analyst Steven Winoker upgraded GE to Buy from Neutral and has a $13 price target on the stock. Shares of GE rose about 0.2% to $10.23 at 9:30 am in opening trading.
In addition to his confidence in Culp, Winoker said "peak uncertainty has been reached" and now expects "forward corporate event catalysts and portfolio moves to improve visibility and to strengthen the balance sheet." The UBS analyst also noted that with the company's falling stock, "and stress testing our downside case given additional investigation/litigation risks plus pressure on Power, our upside/downside now stands at a favorable 3:1 skew."
But to be clear, Winoker said Culp is key to his upgrade. The 55-year-old CEO was the former Danaher Corp. (DHR) CEO who joined GE's board in April and was appointed CEO on the first of the month. During Culp's time at Danaher, the company was known for deal-making, lean management and strong financial performance.
"We think Culp will succeed in improving the businesses, optimizing capital allocation and cleaning up whatever needs to be cleaned up over time," Winoker wrote in an Oct. 31 research note. "With the stock having fallen to about $10, we think the greater risk is that we are early (pending clean-up costs crystallizing) and are willing to make that long-term upside/downside trade-off."
Separately, Barclays analyst Julian Mitchell lowered his price target from $16 to $13 a share, but maintained his Overweight rating on the stock, saying GE "has more self-help potential than most."
Today's gains came after the stock fell to one of its lowest levels since 2009 on Tuesday as management disclosed the expansion of federal investigations along with drastic moves to support the troubled Power business.
Boston-based GE reported a loss of $2.63 a share from GAAP continuing operations for the third quarter as the company recorded a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $22 billion, before tax, related to GE Power.
Management said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission expanded its investigation to include this charge related to GE's Power business. The Department of Justice also is investigating the charge, Chief Financial Officer Jamie Miller said during the conference call. GE is cooperating with the SEC and the DOJ, Miller said.
GE also said it intends to reorganize Power to accelerate the business' operating and financial improvements. The company plans to create two units: A unified Gas business combining GE's gas product and services groups and another unit constituting the portfolio of GE Power's other assets including Steam, Grid Solutions, Nuclear, and Power Conversion.