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GE forecasts 2019 profit below estimates, shares fall

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These translations are done via Google Translate

(Reuters) – General Electric Co forecast adjusted earnings of 50 cents to 60 cents per share for 2019, below analysts’ expectations of around 70 cents, as new Chief Executive Larry Culp plows ahead with asset sales and restructuring.

Shares of the company, hammered by tens of billions of dollars in writeoffs over the past year and one of Wall Street’s worst-performing stocks, were down 2 percent in premarket trading on Thursday, after earlier falling as much as 4 percent following the release of the forecast.

The U.S. industrial conglomerate, which spooked investors last week by warning of a net cash outflow from its industrial businesses this year, said adjusted industrial free cash flow would be between negative $2 billion and zero.

“GE’s challenges in 2019 are complex but clear,” Culp said in a statement that reiterated his priorities of trimming GE’s debt and improving the performance of its industrial businesses, especially the ailing power-plant division.

The company said it expects adjusted industrial free cash flow to be positive in 2020, with the pace of improvement accelerating in 2021, but provided no target figures.

It said it expects free cash flow for its power business to remain negative in 2020 before turning positive in 2021.

Investors are looking closely at GE’s cash and earnings after the company lost nearly $23 billion last year.

Since becoming the first outside CEO to lead the 127-year-old company last October, Culp has taken a series of steps to restore profit and boost its stock, which has tumbled to less than a third of its value since mid-2016.

Last year, Culp slashed GE’s quarterly dividend to a penny a share. He struck a deal to sell the company’s biopharma unit to Danaher Corp in February for $21.4 billion. The proceeds will be used trim debt, which totaled $121 billion in December.

Reporting by Rachit Vats, Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru and Alwyn Scott in New York; Editing by James Emmanuel and Bernadette Baum

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