In the last quarter, shares of General Electric (GE) - Get Report are up 7.8%. At the company's annual outlook meeting last week, management laid out it plans to earn $2 per share by 2018. The stock got a huge boost from the election, with talk of corporate tax cuts and regulatory relief.
After the Trump bump fades, can GE stock deliver? It has underperformed the S&P 500 for 10 years in a row.
GE's outlook meeting did little to address investor concerns. As I see it, there are huge parts of GE that are under pressure and need to be addressed. GE Capital revenue is down as the company transitions away from the finance industry. The oil and gas business is also under pressure. Growth at GE health care has slowed.
The only parts of the company that are doing well are GE Power and GE's renewable energy. Excluding oil and gas, GE's service business is growing at a 6% to 7% rate annually.
On Friday, Jim Cramer and Jack Mohr of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio wrote that GE does have some hurdles to overcome. "There continue to be questions about whether GE can bridge the gap created by oil-and-gas-related headwinds (10 cents to 15 cents per share incremental) and other business segments that are tracking below the initial outlook," they commented.
Cramer and Mohr remain "incrementally (yet cautiously) more optimistic" after the investor meeting, they said.
GE believes it can earn between $1.60 and $1.70 per share, vs. the consensus estimate of $1.67, on 3% to 5% organic revenue growth. The company expects revenue to be $135 billion in 2017, above the $122.7 billion consensus.
GE predicts margins will expand by approximately 100 basis points per year to 16.5% by fiscal 2018. From 2011 to 2015, GE was able to expand margins by 60 basis points each year. The company will end 2016 with margins of 14% to 14.5%.
General Electric anticipates returning $19 billion to $20 billion to investors next year, made up of $8 billion in dividends and an $11 billion to $13 billion share buyback. GE returned about $30 billion to investors in 2016.
Management affirmed its goal of $2 in earnings per share by 2018.
Large industrial names like GE typically trade between 16 and 18 times forward estimates. If you use the consensus estimate of $1.67 per share and give the shares a premium valuation of 19 or 20 times estimates, you end up with a valuation between $31 and $33 per share, which basically leaves the stock with little upside from here.
I know it's popular to recommend GE, but the inconvenient truth is that the shares have underperformed the S&P 500 year to date. The stock underperformed in the last one-year period and for the last 10 years too.
After the Trump bump is over, I would expect the stock to sink lower. Any benefits from fewer regulations and lower taxes (if they are passed by the Congress) would take years to flow through GE's gigantic balance sheet and income statement.
If you want to beat the S&P 500 index return, I would avoid shares of GE.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.