General Electric surges after earnings show strong cash flow and improving profitability

General Electric surges after earnings show strong cash flow and improving profitability
General Electric reports strong earnings.Hussein Faleh/Getty Images
  • GE stock surged as much as 10% on Tuesday after the company reported strong cash flow and improving profitability.
  • GE finished the fourth quarter with $4.4 billion in industrial free cash flow, beating its own estimates by nearly $2 billion.
  • The company continued to struggle with revenue, however, marking a 16% year-over-year drop in the quarter.

General Electric stock surged as much as 10% on Tuesday before paring gains after the company reported strong cash flow and improving profitability in its fourth-quarter earnings release.

GE finished the fourth quarter with $4.4 billion in industrial free cash flow, beating the company's own expectations of $2.5 billion substantially. The strong showing pushed GE's industrial free cash flow into positive territory for the year.

GE was also able to improve its industrial profit margin by 800 basis points to 14.4% for the quarter. That leaves GE's annual industrial profit margin at 10%, topping estimates.
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"As 2020 progressed, we significantly improved GE's profitability and cash performance despite a still-difficult macro environment. The fourth quarter marked a strong free cash flow finish to a challenging year, reflecting the results of better operations as well as strong and improving orders in Power and Renewable Energy." GE Chairman and CEO H. Lawrence Culp, Jr. said.

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Still, GE's struggles to achieve growth continued, and revenues were down 16% year-over-year in the quarter to $21.9 billion. Adjusted earnings per share fell as well to just $0.08 as restructuring costs dented results.
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However, the company was able to reduce its debt by $16 billion in 2020, improving its financial position. GE also settled a suit with the SEC for disclosure issues regarding its power and insurance business, paying a $200 million fine while "neither admitting nor denying" the SEC's findings.

The final bright point in earnings came from GE's 2021 outlook which predicts solid figures for the company in the coming year. Industrial revenues are expected to grow in the low-single-digit range, profit margin is expected to expand 250-plus basis points, and adjusted earnings per share are expected to increase to between $0.15 and $0.25 per share. GE boasts 16 "buy" ratings, zero "sell" ratings, and five "neutral" ratings from analysts.
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The company's stock traded at $11.71 per share as of 9:52 am EST on Tuesday, giving the company a market cap of $102.67 billion.

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