GE stock rose nearly 12% as a longtime bear raised rating on the stock, signaling that, as GE moved to revamp its digital business, the worst may be behind the troubled conglomerate.
Since July 2016, GE’s stock has lost 78% of its value, while the S&P 500 Index has risen 23%. Years of building up debt and making acquisitions that never paid off led the company to a corporate meltdown during the past couple of years. John Flannery, who replaced Jeffery Immelt in 2017, has sold off assets and struggled to turn the company around.
On Thursday, JPMorgan Chase analyst Stephen Tusa, who had a sell rating on (GE) for more than two years, raised his rating to neutral, prompting GE’s stock to rise as much as 11.8% Friday.
“Key to the story, in our view, is the outcome of ‘known unknowns’ in the near term, which are better understood and around which debate is more balanced, as opposed to being overlooked by most bulls in the past,” Tusa wrote in a research note.
While that’s hardly a rousing endorsement, it’s also a better outlook than GE has faced in a while. Tusa also said that the risk of GE’s debt is “at least partially discounted, and it’s possible that the company can execute its way through an elongated workout that limits near-term downside.”
On Thursday, GE also announced a restructuring of its digital assets. The company is selling a majority stake in ServiceMax, a cloud-software company to Silver Lake, a private equity firm. GE, which bought ServiceMax for $915 million in 2016, didn’t disclose the sale price.
GE will now focus more on the internet-of-things market, creating a company that will have $1.2 billion in annual revenue from IoT software. As part of the restructuring, Bill Ruh, GE Digital’s leader, will step down, the company said.
GE’s stock later retreated some from its intraday highs after another analyst, John Inch of Gordon Haskett, said he remained bearish on the stock. “While GE and bullish analysts continue to downplay the company’s liquidity risks/challenges, we believe ongoing business ‘fire sales’ possibly point to a different story,” Inch said, according to Seeking Alpha.
GE ended Thursday trading at $7.20 a share, up 7.3% on the day.