GE's Nightmare Year: The Decline of an American Icon, in ChartsBy
The stock market is routinely hitting record highs. Unemployment is low and heading lower. The U.S. economy looks healthy.
Don’t tell General Electric Co. shareholders.
The U.S. manufacturing icon is limping to the close of 2017, a year marked by massive job cuts, poor earnings and an ignominious end for a longtime leader. GE dramatically lagged behind the stock market, losing about $125 billion of investor value in the process.
GE is grappling with everything from weak power-generation and oil markets to cash flows that are constrained after heavy investments in product-development. John Flannery, who replaced Jeffrey Immelt as chief executive officer in August, has vowed to reshape the portfolio and cut costs, setting up 2018 as a crucial test.
While GE fell short of the broader market in many of Immelt’s 16 years at the helm, this year was particularly tough. The manufacturer’s 45 percent decline trailed the S&P 500 Index by the biggest margin in at least 40 years. GE even lost its spot as the largest U.S. industrial company by market value to Boeing Co., which has gained 90 percent this year.
It’s been a long fall for GE from the Jack Welch-era heyday. Now Flannery will try to put his turnaround plan into practice. And the company, like many domestic manufacturers, may get a boost from changes to the U.S. tax code.
If that doesn’t work, well, hopefully there’s some eggnog left over for GE’s remaining investors.