General Electric shares are hitting lows not seen since the financial crisis, and one analyst on Monday estimated the embattled conglomerate's stock could sink as low as $5.
"The number one question we are receiving from investors is 'what could be the downside share price for GE?'" Gordon Haskett's John Inch wrote in a note. "On a free cash basis, and assuming that GE Capital does not ultimately face insolvency, we estimate GE could trade for [about] $5 [a] share."
Despite a small bump in the beginning of the October following the appointment of Larry Culp as chairman and CEO, shares of GE have fallen over the past month. GE stock closed at $9.28 a share on Monday, its lowest since 2009. The stock is down nearly 47 percent this year.
Inch pointed out that GE's plunge following its third-quarter earnings has come "despite several recent analyst upgrades." GE stock got a buy rating from UBS following the its fall below $10 for the first time since the financial crisis. The firm said "Larry Culp is key" to GE turning things around as "peak uncertainty has been reached" in the market.
The argument by GE bulls on Wall Street is an "academic" view which values GE on a "sum-of-the-parts" basis which gives "large valuations for the Aviation and Healthcare businesses," Inch said.
"GE cannot completely dismantle to realize its true [sum-of-the-parts] as the company is required to maintain a sufficient revenue and asset base to support all of GE Capital's tens of billions of dollars of debt securities," Inch said.
Inch also believes that "no one, including the company, has an accurate handle on the magnitude of GE's total and embedded on-balance sheet and off-balance sheet liabilities, which could ultimately exceed" $100 billion, he said.
Gordon Haskett has an underperform rating and a $10 price target on GE shares.
GE market cap is about $80 billion – a fraction of the nearly $600 billion in August 2000, when it was one of the most valuable companies in history. Its valuation slipped over the first decade of Jeff Immelt's tenure as CEO before taking a sharp hit during the 2009 financial crisis. Despite a recovery to pre-recession levels to as much as $300 billion in December 2015, shareholder confidence crumbled again in January 2017.
The company during its latest earnings report slashed its quarterly dividend to a penny, starting in 2019. The move will help free up cash. GE also split its ailing power division into two units, as Culp began his undertaking to turn the company around.