GE Tumbles After Massive Finance-Arm Charge

Having enjoyed a phoenix-like renaissance in 2018 so far, GE is tumbling in the pre-market, erasing 2018 gains, following reports that the company will record an after-tax charge of $6.2 billion in its fourth quarter results as part of an ongoing review of its finance arm’s insurance portfolio.

Additionally, as WSJ reports, GE will have to set aside $15 billion over seven years to bolster insurance reserves at its GE Capital unit, surprising investors with deeper than expected problems in a business many thought the company had left behind.

The upshot is that the GE Capital unit, which had been paying dividends in recent years to the parent company, won’t pay dividends to GE for the foreseeable future. GE had suspended the GE Capital dividend last year and slashed its payout to shareholders by half.

Shareholders are not impressed...

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GE’s looming charge is one of the biggest yet in a corner of the insurance industry that has reeled from pricing miscalculations made decades ago.

Chief Executive John Flannery expressed frustration at the review’s results while saying the actions will restore GE Capital ratios to appropriate levels.

“At a time when we are moving forward as a company, a charge of this magnitude from a legacy insurance portfolio in runoff for more than a decade is deeply disappointing,” he said.

Probably not as frustrated as the shareholders.