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Genworth Has Troubled Debut

The GE insurance unit is sold for $19.50 a share, slightly less than hoped for.
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Updated from 8:51 a.m. EDT

The biggest initial public offering of the year, the

General Electric

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insurance unit being split off as


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(GNW) - Get Genworth Financial, Inc. Class A Report

, was under water Tuesday despite being priced conservatively by underwriters grappling with volatile markets.

One hundred forty-five million shares were priced at $19.50 Monday night through underwriters led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, below the price-talk range of $21 to $23 a share. The deal, in which a roughly 30% stake in the business was sold, raised about $2.83 billion.

The stock was recently down 19 cents, or 1%, at $19.31.

GE subsequently reaffirmed its full-year 2004 profit estimate of $1.54 to $1.60 a share, or $1.59 to $1.65 a share before items, and said it expects to receive net proceeds of $2.5 billion to $2.9 billion from the offering, which also included a series of convertible and preferred shares.

Genworth, the remainder of which GE will sell over the next five years, has segments that sell life insurance, group life and health insurance for small companies, mortgage insurance and annuities.