January 19, 2018 / 6:14 PM / 3 months ago

General Electric shares drop for fifth straight session

NEW YORK, Jan 19 (Reuters) - General Electric shares tumbled for a fifth straight session on Friday, flirting with their 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 as low as $16.02, threatening to fall below $16 only a day after the stock breached $17 for the first time since December 2011.

In midday trading on Friday, the stock had pared some of its losses, falling 1.9 percent to $16.45. That put the shares on pace for a 12.3 percent drop for the week, just shy of a 12.8 percent weekly drop in October that was the largest such decline since March 2009.

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.”

Some analysts said that the sum of GE’s various business units, including aviation, power and healthcare, may not be worth more than the stock price at current levels.

GE’s shares have been sliding for more than a year, falling nearly 45 percent in 2017 and frustrating shareholders at a time the broader stock market has been rising to record levels. In November, GE slashed its 2018 profit forecast and halved its dividend.

The stock rebounded as much as 11 percent to start 2018, but is now down more than 5 percent for the year. This year, GE is the worst-performing component of the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average, which has climbed 5 percent.

GE is due to report fourth-quarter results on Wednesday. (Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

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