Shares of General Electric got a boost Tuesday amid a bullish analyst report and an appearance by CFO Keith Sherin at an investor conference.
The stock rose 78 cents, or 4.5 per cent, to $18.07 (U.S.) during the day. Volume was above 228 million. The issue's three-month trailing daily average is 73.3 million.
JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa, who has an overweight rating and $22 price target on the shares, lifted his earnings estimates for GE, citing a belief that credit losses at the company are peaking and should be in decline by mid-2010. He thinks GE now has the "potential" to beat analyst estimates for the first time in a decade.
"We believe that, for the first time in over 10 years, the pieces are in place for earnings upside, a key to moving GE from value to momentum," Mr. Tusa said in a research note to clients.
Meantime, CFO Sherin, who is also the company's vice chairman, began a presentation at a conference sponsored by Goldman Sachs at 10AM ET. Dow Jones reported Sherin told the audience that GE plans to resume growing its dividend in 2011, and that he listed buybacks and acquisitions as other potential uses of its cash.
The company has published slides related to Sherin's presenation on its Web site, including one entitled 'What investors should believe' that forecasts earnings growth for both 2011 and 2012, and includes the bullet point: "Cash optionality ... we will deploy in an investor-friendly way."
JPMorgan's Mr. Tusa lifted 2010 estimate for General Electric's earnings by 8 cents to $1 per share, while upping his 2011 estimate by 15 cents to $1.30 a share. Looking out to 2012, he forecasts earnings of $1.62. Mr. Tusa sees the potential for General Electric to beat the current consensus Street estimate for 2011.
He writes that GE has missed analyst expectations two years out every year since 2000. Tusa estimates GE will earn $1.30 per share in 2011 versus consensus estimates of $1.20. Losses are peaking at GE Capital and should begin to drop in the second half of this year, the report argues.
Mr. Tusa finds reasons for bullishness in comments during the company's presentation related to fourth-quarter results that "capital finance is positioned for upside." He also cites the annual shareholders letter from Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, published last week, "in which GE believes that non-earning assets have peaked," according to Tusa's summary of the letter.
Mr. Tusa is also optimistic on General Electric's aviation business, noting increasing air traffic and an improved outlook for the airline industry. Among the obstacles for General Electric, Mr. Tusa sees a rising tax rate for GE Capital. While the financial unit got a tax credit of 14 cents per share in 2009, he sees charges of 13 cents a share and 27 cents a share in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
One major area of exposure for GE's mortgage book is subprime loans in the United Kingdom., accounting for $21 billion out of $59 billion in total mortgages. Tusa writes that loans delinquent 30 days or more appear to have peaked at 13.4 per cent in the third quarter. However, they fell only slightly in the fourth quarter, to 13.3 per cent, which is still well above the 10.6 per cent level for the fourth quarter of 2008.