History suggests GE’s massive dividend cut may not be so bad for the stock in the long term

Why history suggests GE’s dividend cut could be a major buying opportunity

GE shares broke below $18 for the first time since December 2011 on Tuesday, as the stock's electric slide continued for the second-straight session.

The ailing behemoth saw its shares slide as much as 7 percent on Monday, for its worst trading day since 2009, following a dividend cut and a weak 2018 forecast released at its investors meeting. But if recent history is any indication, the cut may not spell doom for GE shares.

According to S&P Global, the companies with the biggest dividend cuts outside of the financial crisis are Pfizer in January 2009, Abbott Labs in December 2012, Kinder Morgan in December 2015 and Conoco Phillips in February 2016.

One year after cutting those dividends, three of the four companies surged. Shares of Pfizer, Abbott and ConocoPhillips soared 28, 44, and 49 percent respectively, while Kinder Morgan was lower by about 4 percent. This suggests that GE may possibly follow in their footsteps, a relief for the battered name that has fallen 40 percent this year and tracking for its worst annual performance since 2008.

While it's been a tough year for General Electric shareholders, Matt Maley of Miller Tabak says the dividend cut is not the final nail in the coffin for the stock. "You need a little bit of faith there that the new CEO can turn things around, but you pick away at it over the next couple of years and it may take a while. But I think you look at 10 years from now and you're going to look really good," he said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "Other things will outperform … [but] I think it's going to be a solid one. GE's not going out of business."

Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Washington Crossing Advisors, believes certain fundamentals need to change for GE to be worth buying. Even as the company has transitioned to new CEO in John Flannery, Morganlander believes the water still looks murky for GE, and Monday's investor meeting did nothing to quell any concerns.

This is especially true, says Morganlander, about the company's three main branches as GE continues to sell off parts of its business. Flannery confirmed that the company was looking to sell its lighting division and would focus on its health, power and aviation branches.

"They have to show some consistency on the free cash flow before we would go and buy," Morganlander said on "Trading Nation." "You could see, potentially 36 months out or more, that they actually break up three divisions that they're hoping to consolidate in 2019, but it remains to be seen."

"This is perhaps an information situation where we need to see additional information to confirm if you should be fully engaged in the company," he added. "At this point, we would hold, and we'd be underweight if we did on it."

GE stock price was down 5 percent Tuesday.