NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Electric (GE.N) shares tumbled for a fifth straight session on Friday, sending the stock to its biggest weekly percentage drop since the financial crisis, after the company flagged a possible breakup and more than $11 billion in charges earlier in the week.
Shares in the U.S. industrial conglomerate fell 3 percent to $16.26 on Friday. That resulted in a 13.3 percent drop for the week, the largest such weekly decline since March 2009.
The stock fell as low as $16.02 on Friday, threatening to fall below $16 only a day after the stock breached $17 for the first time since December 2011.
The latest bout of selling for the struggling stock stemmed from GE’s announcement on Tuesday of more than $11 billion in tax, impairment and insurance charges. New GE Chief Executive John Flannery also indicated the company was looking closely at breaking itself up.
“The company has a more complicated issue than just making some changes to its business portfolio,” said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York. “These issues are going to probably take a long time to resolve.”
Potentially adding to the pressure on the shares, Deutsche Bank analyst John Inch said on Friday that GE may ultimately be forced to raise equity capital, given the company’s “cash squeeze” and apparent debt pressures.
Inch, who rates the stock “sell” with a $15 price target, said in a research note the prospects have increased that GE cuts its dividend further. GE in November cut its dividend in half as it also slashed its 2018 profit forecast.
A GE spokeswoman said the company has no plans to raise equity. GE earlier this week said its industrial cash flow will come in above its prior full-year estimate.
GE’s shares have been sliding for more than a year, falling nearly 45 percent in 2017 and frustrating shareholders at a time when the broader stock market has been rising to record levels.
The stock rebounded as much as 11 percent to start 2018, but is now down 6.8 percent for the year. This year, GE is the worst-performing component of the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI, which has climbed 5.5 percent.
GE is due to report fourth-quarter results on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Chris Reese