Analysts aren't waiting until Thursday's meeting with
to take charge.
A slew of analysts, including Banc of America Securities Monday night and Salomon Smith Barney Tuesday morning, warned they expect the conglomerate to announce a charge of at least $1 billion -- and as big as $2 billion -- to reposition some of its businesses. The charge, analysts said, may be used to boost reserves at its Employers Reinsurance unit and restructure its aircraft-engines unit.
Shares of GE were off 31 cents, or 1.3%, to $23.29 in premarket activity, according to Instinet.
Analysts were of two minds about whether the company would lower earnings guidance for 2003. Banc of America Securities said it expects GE to post an earnings increase next year, but did say the company may lower per-share-earnings guidance to the $1.60 to $1.70 range, below the 2003 consensus estimate $1.70 a share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. The firm said GE's shares may still have 10% upside potential despite the concerns.
Salomon Smith Barney, meanwhile, predicted tough end markets for GE next year, and trimmed its per-share earnings estimate to $1.65 from $1.70, based on "more conservative assumptions" on businesses such as GE Capital. Salomon reiterated its outperform rating, but raised its risk rating to medium from low. It lowered its price target to $30 from $32.