GE is a buy but with a 'strong stomach,' says Wall Street's 'dean of valuation'

  • General Electric's GE Capital is "an anchor dragging this stock down" as much as $20 billion in value, says New York University professor Aswath Damodaran.
  • It will be hard to sell GE Capital because it's "embedded in every one of their other businesses," he says.
  • Buying GE "requires a strong stomach," he says.

Shares of General Electric are a buy that "requires a strong stomach" as trouble continues to mount for the company, Wall Street's "dean of valuation," Aswath Damodaran, told CNBC on Friday.

"I own the stock, but I've got to tell you GE Capital is an anchor dragging this stock down" by as much as $20 billion in value, the finance professor at NYU's Stern School of Business said on "Squawk Alley."

The industrial conglomerate, once America's most valuable company, has been plagued by debt and management troubles and has been taking steps to sell off $25 billion worth of assets in GE Capital. It is now at risk of falling into junk-bond status if it doesn't reduce its debt.

The company has also shaken up its management. In October, it abruptly ditched CEO John Flannery, who served in the position for only a year, and replaced him with former Danaher chief Lawrence Culp.

While GE needs to drop its financial services arm, the company has its work cut out, because GE Capital is "embedded in every one of their other businesses," Damodaran said.

"If somebody walked up to GE and said, 'We'll take GE Capital off your hands for nothing,' that'll be a great bargain," he said.

Damodaran said he has faith in the conglomerate's other three businesses.

Opening at $7.66 Friday, GE was down about 6 percent in afternoon trading after Deutsche Bank cut its price target to $7 a share, citing flat revenue in the power business.

Its shares are down almost 60 percent year over year.