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GE Q1 Earnings in Sync with Estimates, 2016 View Firm

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment, sustained restructuring initiatives for a leaner firm with a re-focus on core operations enabled General Electric Company GE to report relatively modest first-quarter 2016 results. Operating earnings for the reported quarter were $0.5 billion or 6 cents a share compared with an operating loss of $4.1 billion or loss of 41 cents a share in the year-ago quarter. Including industrial and other verticals, operating earnings were 21 cents per share and improved 5% year over year. The operating earnings (including industrial and other verticals) for the reported quarter were in sync with the Zacks Consensus Estimate.

On a GAAP basis, the company reported net income from continuing operations of $0.2 billion or 2 cents per share compared with loss of $4.5 billion or loss of 45 cents per share in first-quarter 2015. The remarkable improvement in reported earnings was primarily due to a reshuffle in the operating portfolio and divesture of GE Capital assets to reduce the volatility in earnings and focus on the strong industrial roots of the company.


Total consolidated revenue for the reported quarter increased 6% year over year to $27,845 million from $26,239 million in the year-earlier quarter, but missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $28,976 million. While the Industrial segment revenue increased 6% year over year to $25,869 million, GE Capital revenues improved 1% to $2,885 million. Organic revenue growth for the Industrial segment declined 1% for the quarter due to slow growth and volatile environment.

Total orders for the quarter for the Industrial segment increased 1% year over year to $23.5 billion, with significant order increases from the Power and Renewable Energy segments. Total backlog of equipment and services at quarter-end was record high at $316.1 billion, up 18% year over year.
Revenue by Segment

During the reported quarter, Oil & Gas revenues declined 18% year over year as expected due to macroeconomic headwinds and volatility in oil prices to $3,314 million, while Energy Connections revenues increased 34% to $2,260 million due to positive contribution from Alstom. Revenues from Aviation segment were up 10% year over year to $6,262 million largely due to higher services revenue. Transportation revenues declined 25% year over year to $981 million on lower locomotive deliveries.

Power segment revenue was up 13% year over year to $5,204 million with strong execution of projects. Appliances & Lighting segment reported revenues of $1,996 million, up 3% year over year with higher revenues from LED bulbs. Revenues from the Healthcare segment improved 3% to $4,183 million due to solid volume and cost productivity. Revenues from the Renewable Energy segment were up 62% year over year to $1,669 million largely due to higher turbine shipments owing to Alstom.   

Revenues from the GE Capital segment increased 1% year over year to $2,885 million. During the reported quarter, GE Capital returned $7.5 billion in dividends to parent General Electric and remained on track to reach the tally of $18 billion in 2016. Ending net investment or ENI (excluding cash and cash equivalents) for GE Capital was $81 billion at quarter-end 2015, down 73.2% year over year. GE Capital finished the quarter with a Tier 1 common ratio of 14.5%.

Margins, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow

Owing to a highly volatile environment and sluggish growth across the globe, General Electric recorded a decline in margins in the reported quarter despite stringent cost-cutting and simplification initiatives. Industrial segment operating profit decreased 3% (organic growth flat) year over year to $2.9 billion, with a significant fall in profits in Power (down 24%), Transportation (down 27%) and Oil & Gas (down 37%), partially offset by a rise in profits Renewable Energy (up 46%), Appliances & Lighting (up 13%) and Aviation (up 16%). Gross margin for the industrial segment was relatively flat at 26.2%, while operating margin decreased to 12.8% from 14.6% in the year-ago quarter.  

Cash generated from operating industrial activities (excluding dividends) for the quarter totaled $356 million, down 60% year over year. Cash and marketable securities at quarter-end aggregated $108 billion.

Restructuring Initiatives

General Electric is actively pursuing with its massive restructuring initiatives in order to create a simpler and nimbler firm. From a classic conglomerate with diversified business interests in financial services, media, industrial and technology-based operations, the company is pruning its operating portfolio to focus on core manufacturing businesses with a digital edge.  

Since Apr 2015 till date, GE Capital has inked sale agreements worth approximately $166 billion, of which it has completed deals worth $146 billion – well ahead of its plan. The transactions are in conformity with the corporate strategy of building a manufacturing-based entity with emphasis on big-ticket items such as aviation engines, drilling machines, generators, medical equipment and scanners. With these restructuring initiatives, General Electric expects operating earnings from the industrial business to comprise over 90% of its total operating earnings by 2018, up from 58% in 2014.

During the reported quarter, General Electric sold its appliance business to Haier Group, a Chinese multinational consumer electronics manufacturing firm. The transaction, scheduled to be completed by the second quarter, unlocked incremental value by allocating more resources to high-growth core industrial businesses. Other notable divestures during the quarter included the sale of Asset Management business to State Street Corporation for approximately $485 million, GE Capital’s Franchise Finance U.S. hotel business to Western Alliance Bank, and Canadian Franchise Finance business to an undisclosed buyer.

Also during the quarter, General Electric brought its digital expertise across the entire Aviation business under a single platform by creating GE Aviation Digital. The new digital division increased productivity and minimized down time through effective utilization of cloud computing and analytics to augment revenues for the company.

In addition, the company launched a Digital Alliance Program, which is dedicated to build the digital industrial ecosystem across global systems integrators, independent software vendors, telecommunications service providers and technology providers. This industry-pioneering program will likely help General Electric to gain a competitive edge over peers, grow its customer base and generate higher revenues by expanding its IT portfolio.

Outlook Reiterated

Despite soft macroeconomic conditions and expectations of weak global growth in 2016, General Electric aims to build upon the momentum for a healthy rise in operating profit in the next year and reiterated its earlier guidance. The company anticipates operating earnings in 2016 to be within $1.45-$1.55 a share. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2016 is currently pegged at $1.51 and lies comfortably within the predicted range.

Organic revenue growth in 2016 is expected to be 2-4%. In addition, General Electric intends to return $26 billion to the shareholders in 2016, including $8 billion in dividends and $18 billion in share repurchases. In addition, the company expects to generate $30-$32 billion in cash flow from operations in 2016.

The company has started its exit from the financial business and has increased its investments in core industrial businesses through restructuring, state-of-the-art technology, and R&D initiatives. We remain encouraged with the restructuring endeavors. Shares were down in pre-market trading following the release as investors probably expected healthy earnings beat.

General Electric currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some notable companies in the industry include 3M Company MMM, Carlisle Companies Incorporated CSL and CLARCOR Inc. CLC, each carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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