General Electric Co. (GE) could be hit hard by rising steel and aluminum prices if President Donald Trump decides to impose strict import tariffs, analysts at Deutsche Bank have warned, just as the Boston-based industrial conglomerate attempts to stabilize its earnings and cash flow under new CEO John Flannery.
Trump's plans to slap a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% levy on non-American aluminum, if enacted, would likely trigger a rapid increase in prices that could force GE to re-value its $134 billion backlog across its power, renewable energy and oil & gas businesses, a move its customers would likely resist. A steel price spike could also complicate plans to exit the locomotives market, a move unveiled last year as part of a $20 billion pare-down of the company's operations.
Deutsche Bank analyst John Inch, who maintains a "sell" rating on GE stock with a price target of $13, said Trump's potential tariffs pose "significant headwinds" for GE amid "depressed" markets for global power generation and "considerable GE earnings and cash pressures".
GE sent out a statement saying that reports about the effect of tariff's on GE's costs are ungrounded.
"Our internal data shows our consumption of imported metals likely to be impacted by the tariffs is minimal," a GE spokesperson said in an email. "We are monitoring the situation as it develops."
GE shares fell 1.2% to $14.43 at 10:45 a.m. EST on Wednesday, March 7.
Last month, GE said it will restate earnings for the past two years as part of a new accounting standard, dealing a blow of 13 cents a share and 16 cents a share to each year's respective profits. The group had previously disclosed on its fourth-quarter earnings call it would restate its earnings to reflect the new accounting standard, which is required due to changes in accounting for long-term product service arrangements.
-- This story has been updated to include a statement from GE.
-- Anders Keitz contributed to this story.