NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- General Electric's (GE) - Get General Electric Company (GE) Report decision to get out the banking business and become largely an industrial company should "unlock higher valuation" for the stock, one analyst says.
GE was already up around 8.6%, to near $28 a share on Friday after GE announced the sale of most of its real estate holdings for $26.5 billion to Blackstone (BX) - Get Blackstone Group Inc. Class A Report and Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report. The company said the sale is part of a broader effort to shed most of its GE Capital finance unit in two years.
S&P Capital IQ analyst Jim Corridore maintains a buy rating on the stock, and S&P raised its 12-month price target by $3 to $34 per share.
"We do expect this transition to unlock a higher valuation for GE," Corridore said in an interview Friday. "Industrial power houses tend to be rewarded on the Street with higher multiples. This sale de-risks the company, takes away unproductive assets that have been earning 1% interest over the last 10 years and allows them to take the cash from these deals and focus on shareholder paybacks and higher growth businesses."
While the move may be good for shareholders, Moody's Investor Service said it might not be so great for debt holders. The ratings agency downgraded GE's unsecured debt to A1 from Aa3 on Friday after the deal was announced.
"GE has been increasing cash payments to shareholders for several years but has not yet achieved a commensurate increase in operating earnings and cash flow," Moody's Russell Solomon said in a news release. "The downgrades reflect our perception of a growing level of financial risk tolerance, in favor of equity holders and at the expense of creditors."
Corridore, meanwhile, said the remaining parts of GE Capital may have one buyer or multiple ones, but he insists there will be buyers.
"These are attractive assets GE is selling," he said. "They just don't generate the types of returns that GE's other businesses generate."
GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt told CNBC Friday that now was the right time for this deal.
"You really have a perfect market to be selling financial service assets, so you've got slow growth, low interest rates, lots of liquidity, people searching for yield," Immelt said. "We think it's good for the regulatory world, it's good for investors."