NEW YORK – General Electric slashed its dividend in half and will attempt to vastly narrow its focus to three key sectors – aviation, health care and energy – as the conglomerate with early ties to Thomas Edison considers shedding even its historic lighting business.
The company also pulled back on profit expectations Monday and shares slumped 7.2 percent, their biggest one-day loss since the financial crisis was roiling the stock market in early 2009.
New Chairman and CEO John Flannery said the company is weighing the future of its transportation, industrial, and lighting businesses so that it can focus more intently on its most profitable divisions.
GE's quarterly dividend is being cut to 12 cents to bring payouts to shareholders closer in line with the amount of money that the company is bringing in. According to S&P Global, GE will save $4 billion a year.
Flannery, speaking at GE's investor meeting in New York, said 2018 will be a “reset” year, and projected a profit between $1 and $1.07 a share. That's well below the $1.15 a share analysts expected, according to FactSet. GE also forecast weaker cash flows than analysts had projected.
Last month, Flannery said that GE would shed business units worth more than $20 billion over the next year or two. It has been paring businesses for well over a decade now. He has been tasked with reviving growth and says the cost-cutting moves are intended to make GE simpler and stronger.
General Electric lost $1.47, or 7.2 percent, to $19.02. The stock hadn't fallen that much in one day since March 30, 2009. It's down 40 percent this year and trading at five-year lows.
General Electric also said it may distance itself from Baker Hughes, the oil and gas giant of which it bought a majority stake earlier this year. Flannery said the integration of Baker Hughes into GE's business is going well, but the company seeks to lessen its exposure to volatile energy prices.