GE’s massive makeover

Last Friday (April 10, 2015), General Electric (GE) announced a plan to sell off real estate and reduce the size of their financial business. They will be selling majority of GE Capital Real Estate assets for about $26.5 billion. GE will also sell away the remaining portion of GE Capital. It aims to complete the sale of GE Capital over the next two years.

GE’s financial unit is one of the largest financial entities, with assets of half a trillion dollars. It includes everything from consumer loans to property. When the financial crisis hit, earnings from GE’s finance unit collapsed. There were (still is) strict regulations on financial services. As a result, Jeff Immelt, CEO of GE, promised to shrink the finance arm.

Ever since the financial crisis, G.E. has taken small steps to shrink its finance operations. Last year, it spun off its private-label credit card business, known as Synchrony Financial (Ticket: SYF), for $2.9 billion initial public offering (IPO).

To who? GE said it would sell nearly all of its real estate portfolio to investors including Blackstone Group and Wells Fargo & Co for $26.5 billion. There are a further $165 billion of assets that needs to be sold. There will be buyers other than Blackstone Group and Wells Fargo & Co. The company plans to keep the finance assets directly related to selling its products such as jet engines, medical equipment, and electrical grid gear. Remember; Warren Buffett has a stake in both GE and Well Fargo. I believe Warren Buffett will be increasing his stake in GE.

Why now? GE is selling their real estate and financial business for two reasons. First, commercial real estate prices are up. Commercial real estate prices are higher today than it was before the financial crisis. Lastly, rates are still low. If the Fed hikes interest rates (cost of borrowing rises), it will be unattractive to finance any deal. Therefore, it’s a perfect time to take an advantage of the low rates and the high prices.

Source: http://www.greenstreetadvisors.com/about/page/cppi/
Source:       http://www.greenstreetadvisors.com/about/page/cppi/

GE is taking the right move, by focusing more on industrial sector. By beginning to sell $26.5 billion worth of real estate assets, GE will be returning to a kind of company it is supposed to be, an industrial company. GE’s operations include jet engines, oil drilling equipment and medical devices. I would not be surprised if GE makes industrial acquisitions, both small and big. I would not even be surprised if GE merges with another industrial business.

Investors are very happy with the deal, including me. General Electric’s stock (Ticker: GE) rose more than 10%, on a heavy volume, to $28.68, highest since September 2008. On Friday, more than 350 million shares (GE) were traded. GE expects to return more than $90 billion in cash to investors through dividends, share buybacks and the Synchrony exchange through the end of 2018. $50 billion will come from a share repurchase program, one of the biggest on record. As of January 31, GE had 10.06 billion shares outstanding. GE expects to reduce it by 20% to 8-8.5 billion by 2018. In the longer term, the stock price will continue to increase.

GE (General Electric) - Daily
GE (General Electric) – Daily

Not only GE wins here, but also Uncle Sam. GE will bring back $36 billion in cash that resides overseas and will have to pay tax to the U.S government, ranging from $4 billion to $6 billion.

GE said it would take after-tax charges of about $16 billion for the restructuring in the first quarter, with $12 billion being non-cash charges. It will reduce their Earnings Per Share (EPS). On Friday (April 17, 2015), GE will report their first quarter earnings.

GE expects that by 2018 more than 90% of its earnings will be generated by its industrial businesses, up from 58% in 2014.

Past & Future:

GE's past and future
GE’s past and future (source: http://www.ge.com)

 

 Note: I currently own shares in GE, which I brought last year at $25.83. I plan to hold on to it. I may even buy more shares. I believe GE’s share-price will reach $38 by the first half of 2016.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, and/or leave comments. Thank you.

UPDATE: Click http://www.outofwacc.com/ges-slight-positive-earnings-report-and-its-about-to-change/ or click here.

Central Bank Meeting Minutes: BoE, FOMC and ECB (Update on Greece)

During the week of February 16, 2015, BoE (Bank of England), FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) and ECB (European Central Bank) released its meeting minutes for the latest monetary decisions. Let’s go in depth of these meeting minutes and how we can apply them to our trading decisions.

 

Bank of England (BoE) – (February 18, 2015)

The Bank of England meeting minutes showed that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted unanimously (9 members) to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record-low of 0.5%. There were hints it could be lowered in the next few months (yes, decrease, not increase). Two committee members, Martin Weale and Ian McCafferty who voted in favor of rate hike previously, were in favor in holding rates this time. Regarding its inflation in which Consumer Prices Index (CPI) fell to 0.3% (lowest since decades ago) last month changed the views of MPC. Some worry that it might slip below zero in the next few months. It has caused some to suggest rate cut over the next few months. The rate cut hinted in the minutes is totally different than what the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney said last week.

Mark Carney spoke to the press at Inflation Report press conference. He signaled that BoE remains on course to raise interest rates in the U.K. next year, despite decline in inflation. He also mentioned that BoE might cut the interest rate if inflation transforms into deflation (below 0). I believe if the inflation falls below 0, the BoE will cut the interest rate by 0.25, but only for short period of time. However, he pointed out that BoE still expects its next move will be raising rates, not cut them.

There are confusions going on with BoE on interest rate. I look at this way; inflation goes below 0, rate cut will come, inflation starts to increase, rate increase will come, and watch out for future statements by BoE for more clues. I would not trade Pound (GBP) based on these interest rate talks, for now. There is no clear road for interest rate for now. But, I would trade based on other news/events and charts’ technical.

 

Federal Reserve – (February 18, 2015)

The Federal Reserve meeting minutes showed that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) expressed concerns over raising interest rates too soon, which could could halt or slow the U.S economic “recovery”. They are also worried over the impact of dropping “patient” from central bank’s rate guidance. They thought that removing “patient” from the FOMC statements in the future would put too much weight on its meaning. As a result, it would cause financial markets to overreact (Unlike Swiss National Bank, Federal Reserve cares about financial markets movements). If “patient” is dropped, I would think that interest rate hike is coming in the next two meetings. They also worried about falling inflation expectations in the U.S. If the inflation drops, I believe it’s going to halt (not cut) FOMC from raising the interest rate, but not decrease the rates.

In the minutes, it’s mentioned that there are worries about international events such as Greece (Greece got 4 month bailout) and Ukraine (There’s no “truce”). But, it’s not going to keep them from raising the interest rate, backed by strong jobs reports. However, the federal reserve signaled its willingness to keep interest rates low for longer because of strong U.S dollar and “flat” housing market. Raising interest rates will only send U.S higher, making it much stronger than ever.

On February 24 and 25, Fed Chair Janet Yellen will be speaking in congressional testimony and we should look for further clues to the timing of the interest rate hike.

Any clues of earlier rate hike will send U.S. dollar to rise in which I would go short USD/JPY, USD/CAD, and/or long GBP/USD. Remember, don’t hold your trade positions for more time if you trigger market order just based on what Yellen said, unless there are other news and technical to support your trade.

 

European Central Bank (ECB) – (February 19, 2015)

The European Central Bank first ever meeting minutes showed fears of continued deflation the euro zone, which led to launch of Quantitative Easing (QE) program which starts in March. The main goal of QE is to drag the euro zone out of deflation and near to 2% inflation target. This first minutes doesn’t reveal much of anything. Since there weren’t any new details or “surprising” details, the markets, especially Euro did not move much.

Europe has agreed to extend its financial lifeline to Greece only for 4 months. The deal was stuck last Friday (February 20, 2015). This is another bailout for Greece. How long does Euro has to keep bailing out Greece from the mess Greece made? The deal is not final if Greece does not come up with its plan by Monday (February 23, 2015). Then, it will be voted by institutions involved in the bailout by April. If the institutions do not back the plan, the “deal” becomes “no deal”.

I would still keep an eye on Greece. If you trade Euro, be careful with news coming out of Greece. It will be violent and may cause you to have losing positions or touch stop loss (or make money). When picking Euro to trade, I would pick pairs other than EUR/USD.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave comments or contact. Thank you.