S&P downgrades debt-riddled GE and GE Capital

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GE changed our lives. Why is it struggling?

New Normal Electrical boss Larry Culp simply bought a contemporary reminder of the debt-riddled steadiness sheet he is inheriting.

Barely 24 hours after Culp grew to become CEO, S&P World Scores downgraded the credit score rankings of GE (GE) and GE Capital. Moody’s and Fitch warned they might do the identical.

All three rankings corporations cited GE’s elevated leverage and shrinking money flows — an alarming development exacerbated by severe issues at GE’s energy division. GE mentioned on Monday that plunging revenue at GE Energy will trigger the mum or dad firm to overlook targets in 2018.

S&P pointed to “deep near-term challenges” at GE Energy, which has been harm by the shift in the direction of renewable vitality. Extra not too long ago, GE disclosed mechanical issues with its fuel generators.

Culp absolutely has an extended to-do listing as he begins work as the primary outsider CEO in GE’s historical past. However on the prime of the listing should be repairing GE’s once-sturdy steadiness sheet. GE had an ideal AAA credit standing as not too long ago as 2009. S&P lowered it on Tuesday from “A” to “BBB+”.

Over time, GE has piled on tons of debt attributable to poorly-timed offers, a large pension deficit and misguided share buybacks.

Underscoring the size of the issue, Moody’s mentioned that GE’s “very elevated leverage” may lead it to downgrade the corporate’s score by a number of notches. Scores downgrades could make it costlier for firms to borrow cash.

The excellent news is that S&P up to date its outlook on GE to “steady” as a result of the agency expects leverage and money circulate will enhance within the coming years.

Nonetheless, GE’s debt issues might power the corporate to reexamine its $four.2 billion dividend. GE reduce the dividend final yr for simply the second time because the Nice Melancholy.

However GE’s funds have deteriorated additional. S&P listed the dividend as one in every of a number of levers Culp might pull to scale back debt.

In a press release, GE mentioned it has a “sound liquidity place” that features money and working credit score strains.

Repeating feedback made by Culp on Monday, GE mentioned it stays “dedicated to strengthening the steadiness sheet together with deleveraging.”

Now that he is in cost, Culp might want to determine if he needs to go ahead with former CEO John Flannery’s plans to break-up GE. Flannery’s turnaround plan included exiting varied companies, together with oil and fuel, well being care and the century-old railroad division. Proceeds from the gross sales would then be used in the direction of paying down debt.

However shrinking GE additionally makes the corporate extra depending on the remainder of its portfolio — with GE Energy being the most important remaining enterprise. Which means slumping energy revenue provides GE much less firepower to pay down debt.

CNNMoney (New York) First printed October 2, 2018: 2:48 PM ET

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