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Lonely Wall Street analyst is ‘sticking’ with General Electric even after its poor guidance

  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch reiterates its buy rating for General Electric shares, saying the company can create value through better expense management and asset sales.
  • "We believe that GE has significant cost cutting opportunities under the new leadership. We note that the company has undergone a significant reinvestment cycle, positioning the company well from a competitive standpoint," the firm's analyst writes.

While many of its peers are giving up on General Electric, Bank of America Merrill Lynch still recommends the industrial giant's stock.

We are "sticking with a buy despite a disappointing outlook," analyst Andrew Obin wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. "We believe that GE has significant cost cutting opportunities under the new leadership. We note that the company has undergone a significant reinvestment cycle, positioning the company well from a competitive standpoint."

General Electric shares had their worst day since 2009 on Monday, falling 7 percent after the company reduced its dividend and unveiled a restructuring plan during its investor day. It was the company's first investor day under CEO John Flannery, who replaced Jeff Immelt in August.

The shares fell some more on Tuesday, down another 6 percent midway through the trading day.

The analyst reiterated his buy rating and lowered his price target to $23 from $27, representing 21 percent upside to Monday's close.

Obin shared his top reasons why investors should own General Electric:

1. "The dividend cut is now behind us."
2. "While lower '18 outlook v. our and consensus' forecast was not expected, we view the current outlook as the 'true reset.'"
3. "GE is prefunding $6bn of its pension obligations in '18 by issuing debt, ameliorating some of the concerns about off-balance-sheet liabilities."

He also said the company has the opportunity to create value by selling some of its businesses.

"We continue to believe that SOTP [sum-of-the-parts method] is the key valuation metric for the stock, particularly as we think GE will be more aggressive on portfolio reshaping v. what the market thinks," he wrote.

Nearly 70 percent of Wall Street does not have buy ratings for General Electric shares, according to FactSet. Such a mixed view for a large industrial conglomerate is a rarity.

General Electric shares are significantly underperforming the market so far this year. The stock has declined nearly 40 percent year to date through Monday's close versus the S&P 500's 15.5 percent return.