General Electric cut its dividend for the second time in less than 12 months - slashing the quarterly dividend from 12 cents a share to a penny - only the third reduction since the Great Depression which will save GE about $3.9 billion a year, as it reported earnings that missed analyst expectations and unveiled a radical restructuring of its troubled power equipment division.
GE's earnings, which also included the company's plans to reorganize its ailing power division, were the first to be reported under new CEO Larry Culp who was appointed suddenly last month after the exit of John Flannery, also included a $22bn non-cash charge for the writedown for goodwill in the power division, which was left on the balance sheet following the 2015 acquisition of the energy businesses of Alstom and other deals.
GE's Q3 EPS, excluding that writedown and other one-off items, were 14 cents, down 33% year over year, and a big miss to the consensus analysts’ forecast of 20 cents. Including the writedown, GE reported a net loss of $22.8 billion.
Culp said in a statement that "after my first few weeks on the job, it’s clear to me that GE is a fundamentally strong company with a talented team and great technology. However, our results are far from our full potential. We will heighten our sense of urgency and increase accountability across the organisation to deliver better results.”
He added that his priorities in his first 100 days were “positioning our businesses to win,” starting with the power division and cutting GE’s debts.
The announcements mark Culp’s first moves to restructure the ailing company: Culp has yet to address shareholders since the board’s surprise Oct. 1 decision to oust CEO John Flannery.
Culp also said that in his first strategic move since taking the job, he will break up the power division into two units: a unified business combining GE’s gas product and services groups; and a second operation with the portfolio of GE Power’s other assets, including steam, grid solutions, nuclear and power conversion. GE Power has been a main source of the company’s troubles and reported a 33 percent decline in third-quarter sales; Culp will also do away with its corporate headquarters.
There was some good news: sales in GE Aviation, which is boosting production on a new engine for narrow-body commercial jets, climbed 12 percent.
The shares rose 1.3 percent to $11.30 in premarket trading, although there is a long way to go: GE has tumbled 36% this year, hitting a price first seen in the mid 1990s.