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GE shutting the lights off for 2 divisions

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Kai Ryssdal: Another of the world's biggest companies is getting smaller, though. General Electric announced today it's thinking about spinning off its consumer and industrial division -- appliances, lighting, those kind of things.

But Marketplace's Amy Scott reports GE's still got plenty left.


Amy Scott: GE switched on the first incandescent light bulb almost 130 years ago, but lately its outlook has dimmed. The stock is down about 25 percent so far this year.

Christopher Bartlett is professor emeritus at Harvard Business School. He says CEO Jeff Immelt is under pressure.

Christopher Bartlett: And that means selling off parts of the organization that aren't growing as fast as his growth objectives.

Bartlett says areas like energy and medical products offer the most promise. GE's infrastructure business -- it makes aircraft engines and wind turbines -- drives roughly 40 percent of the company's sales.

Back in May, GE announced plans to shed its appliance business. The company isn't ruling out a sale of the larger consumer division.

But analyst Matt Collins with Edward Jones says it's a tough time to sell.

Matt Collins: You look what's happening in the credit markets these days, it's very difficult for many buyers to get financing, so to sell a business this large is a bit more difficult than putting together a spin-off alone.

If the spin-off goes through, GE would simply create a separate company and issue new stock to shareholders.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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