General Electric (GE)

It has been a while since we took a closer look at General Electric (GE), the 7th most widely-followed stock by Manifest Investing subscribers. The company is anything but a stranger to this community of investors.

It’s also safe to say that it’s been a source of considerable angst and frustration for many of us.

Company Description

General Electric Company is one of the largest & most diversified technology and financial services companies in the world. With products ranging from aircraft engines, power generation, oil and gas production equip., and household appliances to medical imaging, business and consumer financing, and industrial products, it serves customers in more than 100 countries.

Business Model Analysis

Even successful giants are vulnerable to the impact of a deep recession and GE turned out to be no exception. During the 2007-2009 financial crises, GE Capital served as a catalyst that deepened the damage. Because GE Capital was essentially a venture banking enterprise nested within the industrial giant — and accounted for over 50% of revenues — when the financial markets imploded, the impact was fairly severe and maybe even life threatening. That’s the only way to account for a price drop from $42.20 to $5.70 (-86.5%) for this blue chip leader.

Outlook

The Value Line low total return forecast for General Electric is now 13% — as the long-term low price forecast was bumped from $30 to $35 in the current update.

Analysts appear to be optimistic about the Alstom acquisition and fairly certain that the global condition will ultimately improve. Infrastructure matters. This urgently includes the United States as the electrical system condition is well on its way to resembling those bumpy pothole-ridden atrocities we used to call roads. The only difference is that when the electricity system fails — it takes a lot of critical stuff with it. General Electric is crucial to restoring the necessary reliability of our electrical supply.

We like this blue chip from a number of perspectives. The year ahead will probably only bring returns in line with the overall market; however, out to 2017-2019 we think this equity has room to run. Too, with the dividend north of 3%, income investors have a strong play here.” — Value Line (1/16/2015)

The growth forecast is based on emphasizing the last 2-3 years of actual data in combination with the Value Line forecasts. This industrial giant is retooling, exiting a few businesses while bolstering others. The Alstom addition is an example. For this reason, we focus on the right hand side of the business model trends — and find 4-5% top line growth feasible.

Value Line has a 3-5 year projected net margin of 15.3% and this is a big part of the 14.7% total return forecast for the analyst section of the study. While achievable, we’d be more comfortable with a profitability forecast in the 12-13% range based on the historical profile.

A projected average P/E ratio of 15.0x for a blue chip leader is solid.

General Electric’s exposure to capital-intensive industries makes for a rough road during corrections and recessions. Bringing home an EPS stability of 76 is quite an achievement. The “dent” made in the company the 2008-2009 recession manifests in the Financial Strength rating. (It used to be higher) Overall, General Electric still ranks in the top 10th percentile of all companies when it comes to quality — and we’d be unsurprised to see the overall quality rating increase in years ahead.

It’s been a bumpy road. (Understatement alert) But business results have been steadily improving. 2015 may be yet another flat spot in the stock price trend if oil prices continue to fall — and global recessionary conditions persist.

Ge chart 20150115

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