Industrial orders have long lead times and enormous capital requirements, yet remain susceptible to the business cycle. It's not very sexy, despite efforts in recent GE ads to make it so. Immelt keeps coming up with "feel good" jobs for the company, like cleaning up Alberta's tar sands but fewer than 10% of revenue falls to the net income line, and the stock is still priced one-third below what it fetched when Immelt took over from the legendary Jack Welch 

GE is run a little like the Catholic church in that each succeeding CEO is given the power to transform the company. Immelt is only the ninth chairman the company has had since its debut on the original Dow Jones list in 1887. GE was a financial behemoth under Welch, an appliances giant under Welch's predecessor, Reginald Jones, and a huge defense contractor under another legendary predecessor, "Electric" Charlie Wilson. 

The leading candidates to succeed Immelt, Lorenzo Simonelli and Steve Bolze, both come out of a heavy industry background, Simonelli in oil and gas, Bolze in power and water. Of course, before becoming CEO himself Immelt was known as a marketer with experience in appliances, plastics and medical supplies. So if you are buying into GE's long-term future you are buying risk.

At the time of publication the author had a position in GE.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

TheStreet Ratings team rates GENERAL ELECTRIC CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate GENERAL ELECTRIC CO (GE) a BUY. This is driven by multiple strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations, increase in stock price during the past year and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • GE's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 0.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.0%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $4,961.00 million or 7.61% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, GENERAL ELECTRIC CO has also modestly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 3.60%.
  • Compared to where it was 12 months ago, the stock is up, but it has so far lagged the appreciation in the S&P 500. Turning our attention to the future direction of the stock, it goes without saying that even the best stocks can fall in an overall down market. However, in any other environment, this stock still has good upside potential despite the fact that it has already risen in the past year.
  • GENERAL ELECTRIC CO's earnings per share declined by 17.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, GENERAL ELECTRIC CO increased its bottom line by earning $1.47 versus $1.38 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.70 versus $1.47).
  • The gross profit margin for GENERAL ELECTRIC CO is rather high; currently it is at 51.60%. Regardless of GE's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 8.82% trails the industry average.

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