US industrial giant General electrics will split into three companies after years of underperformance, the company announced on Tuesday.
The company will be split into separate units focusing on aerospace, healthcare and energy. GE plans to outsource healthcare by early 2023 and energy by early 2024, the company said in a press release.
GE stock, which was up 55% in the past 12 months, rose more than 6% in early trading Tuesday.
“By creating three industry-leading global public companies, each can benefit from greater focus, tailored capital allocation and strategic flexibility to drive long-term growth and value for customers, investors and employees,” said CEO Lawrence Culp in a statement accompanying the announcement . “We use our technology know-how, our leadership role and our global reach to better serve our customers.”
The steps are still a long way off, so concrete naming decisions have not yet been made, but the current General Electric will be the aviation-oriented company.
Co-founded by Thomas Edison in the late 19th century, General Electric has undergone several changes over the past century as the US economy changes, becoming a leading supplier of equipment, jet engines, and power turbines.
The conglomerate expanded rapidly under the late Jack Welch in the 1980s, moving into financial services and broadcasting again with the purchase of NBC, while generating enviable earnings growth and returns for investors.
GE was the largest company by market value until the early 2000s, but then came the financial crisis. Under the pressure of its ailing financial arm, GE was never able to climb to the top under Welch’s successor Jeff Immelt. The stock was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2018 after being one of the original members of the blue chip index until 1896.
Culp, who previously directed Danaher, Took over as CEO of GE in 2018. The company has spun off or sold several of its units under Culp as the board of directors sought to simplify the conglomerate’s business structure.
“We have made a lot of progress over the past few years not only in terms of our balance sheet, but also in improving our core business,” said Culp on Tuesday when he called investors and analysts. “But I think, as we’ve seen in so many cases outside of GE over the past decade, doing good business increases focus and accountability.”
Despite the recent outperformance, GE stocks have outperformed the market significantly over the past two decades. The stock has lost 2% annually since 2009, compared to an annual return of 9% for the S&P 500, according to FactSet.
GE’s decision was praised by Wall Street analysts Tuesday morning.
“The move increases costs, but the agility of three focused companies is likely to be seen as an opportunity to more than offset new costs,” Wells Fargo analyst Joseph O’Dea said in a statement to customers.
The company has been plagued by heavy debt over the past few years that has aroused skepticism on Wall Street. The capital structures of the new companies will be announced at a later date, GE said, and Culp added in a call with investors that the energy segment will have the least debt.
The company announced that it would use the proceeds from the recent sale of its aviation finance unit to pay off debt, with gross debt expected to be less than $ 65 billion by the end of 2021. The spin-offs will incur transaction and operating costs of approximately $ 2 billion. GE appreciated.
– CNBC’s John Melloy and Michael Bloom contributed to this story.