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It’s going to take 'five years’ to turn General Electric around, analyst says

  • General Electric cut both its quarterly dividend and the number of seats on its board on Monday.
  • It will take five years for CEO John Flannery to turn the company around, industrial analyst Brian Langenberg said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
  • GE spent years "buying high and selling low," according to Langenberg.

General Electric is trying to turn things around, as the company announced Monday it was slashing its dividend in half and restructuring to focus primarily on three units.

"To really turn this company around operationally and culturally, it's going to take CEO John Flannery — if he does it right — five years," industrial analyst Brian Langenberg said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Langenberg compares GE's current situation to that of Honeywell over a decade ago. He says Honeywell went from being "a burned-out husk" of a company to "about four or five years" later being "credible with investors" again.

"There is a path to doing that, but it is not going to be a quick fix," Langenberg said.

GE spent years "buying high and selling low," according to Langenberg. For years the company overpaid for acquisitions and crippled its cash flow, a reality Vertical Research Partners founder Jeffrey Sprague also identified on "Squawk Box."

"It could have been fixable but there were many capital allocation mistakes over the years," Sprague said. "GE was slow to admit or recognize the pressures there, but they've been coming for awhile."

As a result, GE "absolutely had to cut the dividend," Sprague says. He says he fully expected GE's announcement to cut its quarterly dividend in half, to 12 cents a share from 24 cents a share, effective in December.

"It's very clear the power markets are in bad shape, and that's the biggest business at GE," Sprague said. "They have gotten themselves extended on cash flow here over the last several years and then had their biggest market turn on them."

"It really just left them no out," Sprague added.

Shares of GE were down 33 percent this year as of Friday's close, according to FactSet.

The shares were down 1.6 percent on Monday shortly after the open.

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