General Electric reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and reaffirmed its full-year guidance but analysts remained skeptical about its turnaround strategy amid a continuing slump in its power business.
GE’s earnings beat might have seemed a cause for optimism after some dire recent quarters and rising concerns over its cash position.
For the second-quarter, the conglomerate’s earnings per share rose 14% to 16 cents as revenue climbed 7% to $28.66 billion with growth in aviation, oil-and-gas and healthcare offsetting declines in power, transportation, lighting and renewable energy.
Analysts had expected earnings of 11 cents per share on revenue of $27.88 billion and, on news of the results, GE shares rose nearly 4% to $14.54 in trading Friday. The stock has declined more than 50% over the past 12 months.
“The first quarter is a step forward in executing on our 2018 plan and we are seeing signs of progress in our performance,” CEO John Flannery said in a news release, industrial earnings, free cash flow, and margins all improved year over year and industrial structural costs declined by $805 million.
“There is no change to our framework for 2018,” Flannery said as GE reiterated full-year guidance of earnings per share between $1 and $1.07 and adjusted industrial cash flow of $6 billion to $7 billion.
GE’s cash flow had become such a concern that in November 2017, it slashed its quarterly dividend by 50%.
But several analysts took little comfort from the first-quarter report. “When you start digging into the details, and you look at what they’re saying is the future of the business, I kind of scratch my head as to how [the company] today is maintaining guidance,” Stephen Tusa of JPMorgan told CNBC.
The beleaguered power division continued to struggle, with profit down 38% on a 9% drop in sales; orders dropped 29%.
“The power business is supposed to be a major driver,” said analyst Brian Langenberg of Langenberg & Co. “Until you get power fixed, and they’re nowhere close to getting that fixed, the stock only goes so far.”