General Electric’s stock may have finally put in a bottom after falling as low as $6.66 last week, but now may not be the best time to buy into shares of the embattled industrial, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday.
Last week, J.P. Morgan analyst and longtime GE bear Steve Tusa upgraded the struggling company’s stock, citing a more “balanced risk-reward” profile and an improved outlook on management’s ability to “execute its way through an elongated workout.” The upgrade took GE’s rating to “neutral” from “underperform” and ended a recommendation to short the stock.
GE shares traded higher on the news, climbing 12 percent from its lows last week. This Wednesday, longtime GE analyst Jeff Sprague followed suit with an upgrade of his own, his first “buy” recommendation for the stock in more than a decade.
“GE deserved to rebound based on that upgrade from Steve Tusa, the analyst with the sharpest read on where the company’s headed,” Cramer said on “Mad Money.” “However, Tusa didn’t exactly give you the green light to start buying here.”
Cramer pointed out that Tusa, who he said has been GE’s “biggest and most accurate critic” since 2016, didn’t raise his price target on the stock or say that its problems have been solved in his Dec. 13 note.
“In fact, he thinks the earnings estimates may need to be cut further. It’s just that GE’s stock has come down to the point where he believes it has a reasonable valuation,” Cramer explained.
Tusa also noted that if things go south for GE, the stock could still sink to $5, but if the turnaround goes well, it could trade to as high as $8 a share. As a result, Cramer wasn’t ready to suggest buying the stock just yet.
“I think GE might be done going down, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ready to be bought, … which is why I recommend holding off for now,” he said.
Still, the “Mad Money” host acknowledged some positives on the horizon for GE, which has been under pressure as it forges a plan to turn its assorted businesses around.
Shortly after Tusa’s upgrade, GE said it was reorganizing its software business to make it a separate internet of things company, a step forward in its plan to spin off non-core segments and make the remaining company a power and aviation play. Then, on Wednesday, sources told CNBC that GE had filed for an initial public offering of its health-care business.
And while a recent Wall Street Journal story on GE titled “GE Powered the American Century—Then It Burned Out” read like something of an obituary for the ailing industrial, Cramer ironically saw it as promising.
“When the Wall Street Journal publishes an epic eulogy for your business, that’s the kind of thing that often marks the bottom. If you were going to sell this thing, well, let’s just say you should’ve already sold it,” he said. “Unfortunately, I just don’t have the conviction yet to recommend the stock. You don’t buy an industrial when you’re worried about a Fed-induced smackdown, even if it’s an industrial with a stock that’s come down dramatically.”
Shares of GE sank Wednesday, closing down 2.87 percent at $7.44. The stock has lost more than 57 percent year to date.
Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of J.P. Morgan.
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