Why GE Stock Has Underperformed Recently
It’s been an unusual last three months for General Electric (NYSE:GE) stock. The company delivered a well-received set of second-quarter earnings at the end of July. Still, even that wasn’t enough to halt a period of significant underperformance compared to the benchmark S&P 500 index. So what’s going on, and has anything changed with the long-term investment thesis for GE stock?
The first reason the stock has underperformed is much higher profile and not hard to understand. Simply put, stocks in the commercial aviation sector have been weak due to fears that the delta variant of the coronavirus will forestall the recovery in commercial air travel. That matters to a business like GE because its aviation segment remains its most important earnings and cash flow generator.
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For example, going back to the year before the recent pandemic,GE Aviation generated $4.4 billion in free cash flow. It helped offset a $2.5 billion combined outflow at GE Renewable Energy and GE Power.
There’s no way around the fact that GE’s recovery is contingent on a recovery in commercial aviation. In addition, GE Aviation’s engines are a critical part of the commercial aviation industry. For example, GE Aviation and its joint venture with Safran, CFM, together make up 67% of the global installed base of aircraft engines.