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Dec 13, 2018

GE surges as biggest bear lifts rating after calling the slump

General Electric shares rise on JPMorgan analyst upgrade

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General Electric climbed in pre-market trading as JPMorgan analyst Steve Tusa upgrades the company to neutral from underweight as the liabilities and “known unknowns” are better understood and reflected in the stock price.

While the challenges remain the same -- the need to reduce debt and pension liabilities, restructure the power business and improve free cash flow -- an equity capital raise would help address the leverage issues and also protect the balance sheet from a potential downturn, Tusa wrote in a note Thursday. Still, he warned that a reset in free cash flow expectations may be necessary, even as it could provide a bottom for the stock.

“We believe a more negative outcome on these liabilities (equity dilution, for one) is at least partially discounted, and it’s possible that the company can execute its way through an elongated workout that limits near-term downside,” Tusa wrote in a note.

Tusa had been a long-time bear on GE’s stock, carrying a sell-equivalent rating since May 2016. He still holds the lowest price target on the Street at US$6.00, compared with the average US$11.33, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. GE has nine analysts who rate it a buy, 13 calling it a hold and two saying sell.

Separately, GE Digital said it would sell a majority stake in its ServiceMax cloud-based field-service software to Silver Lake and create a new industrial Internet-of-things firm with starting annual revenue of US$1.2 billion.

GE shares surged 9.8 per cent to US$7.37 at 7:15 a.m. in early New York trading. The stock has lost about 80 per cent of its value since its July 2016 high, falling to its lowest level since March 2009 in the past month.