The company has three positives that should give investors cause for optimism.
For starters, GE has limited financial market exposure. GE Capital may have helped the company grow, but following the Great Recession, finance units had difficulty competing with big banks. Since April 2015, when GE announced a plan to return to its roots, it signed deals to offload over $180 billion in assets from GE Capital. That's practically the equivalent of selling off a major bank.
By exiting large parts of the financial maze, GE has avoided the problems faced by large, wholesale-funded financial companies. The initiative should be completed by the end of the year.
There's been a small re-rating, with GE now trading at 3.4 times price/book compared to its five-year average of 1.9 times (with GE Capital assets still part of the company). Conglomerate peers like 3M and Honeywell trade at richer multiples.
A leaner GE Capital gives GE incremental financial flexibility to control its balance sheet for several years. That should help achieve better valuations.
If GE is able to realize greater cost savings, the deal could land it better returns. GE and Baker Hughes expect $600 million each in cost synergies and $100 million in revenue synergies.
GE should soon gain from Baker Hughes in its regional and product-line diversity, something Schlumberger has shown.
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GE is also using its digital strength to buffet its energy clout. For instance, its pact with BP sets up future opportunities across the oil industry.
Lastly, GE will benefit from manufacturers' growing use of digital technology.
The company has understood the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) opportunity and is silently building an impressive team, hiring key executives from Microsoft and Alphabet-owned Google.
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GE is making small- and medium-sized acquisitions to expand its presence in the field of digitizing and automating the maintenance of heavy-duty machines. GE Digital, which was established last year, could become a $15 billion business by 2020.
All three factors should set a good foundation for 12%+ annual earnings growth over the next five years, which should be especially beneficial, following the previous half-decade.
Despite the recent growth in GE's shares, the stock is currently available at 2015 prices and offers an attractive 3% dividend yield. It has paid a quarterly dividend for 100-plus years. Buy a chunk of this mammoth $276.5 billion high-tech industrial leader for consistent growth, high margins, and high returns, and hold for a three- to five-year timeframe.
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