Merrill Lynch Sets Expectations for General Electric Company (GE) Ahead of Q3:16 Earnings

Merrill Lynch analyst Andrew Obin provides perspective on shares of General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) ahead of third-quarter results on October 21st, anticipating a “mixed quarter” for the industrial giant, with a decline in year-over-year margin in GE legacy Power, “still tough” energy markets, “weakening” Transportation in North America, foreign exchange headwinds, and restructuring costs.

Yet, the analyst believes the weaknesses will be “offset by strength” in Aviation and Healthcare and anticipates prospective upside to shares attributed to accelerated buyback. As such, Obin reiterates a Buy rating on GE with a $37 price target, which represents a 26% increase from where the stock is currently trading.

Additionally, Obin trims third-quarter EPS projections from 33c to 30c, lowers his organic growth projection for third-quarter from 3% to 1% year-over-year, and reduces 2016 and 2017 EPS from $1.50 to $1.46 and from $1.65 to $1.62, respectively. From the analyst’s perspective, the giant has high probability to reiterate its EPS outlook of $1.45 to $1.55, believing the lower end will be “a more likely scenario in the current macro,” mirroring Obin’s new EPS projection.

Obin notes that though it is likely there will be “soft” new equipment orders, service orders, and free cash flow, “We think expectations for FCF and orders are already cautious.” Moreover, GE faces “easy comps” in its third-quarter, although the analyst still predicts core equipment orders will be down. Still, Obin believes there will be “modest improvement” in Service Orders.

The analyst contends, “We estimate that GE has ~$25bn of incremental cash optionality through the end of ’17 which will likely get pulled forward in the environment of choppy macro. We expect the Street to look for more visibility from management regarding appetite for sizable M&A and areas of focus, as the company is still digesting the Alstom acquisition.”

“While we are below consensus for GE, we highlight that we are below the Street for most of our Multi-Industry names. We think the macro environment remains challenging, and we expect growth expectations for Multi-Industry coverage to come down post 3Q16 results,” Obin concludes.

According to TipRanks, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, four-star analyst Andrew Obin is ranked #927 out of 4,190 analysts. Obin has a 60% success rate and garners 6.5% in his annual returns. When recommending GE, Obin gains 8.3% in average profits on the stock.

TipRanks analytics demonstrate GE as a Buy. Based on 11 analysts polled in the last 3 months, 5 rate a Buy on GE, 4 maintain a Hold, while 2 issue a Sell. The 12-month price target stands at $32.25, marking a 10% upside from where the shares last closed.

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