General Electric (GE) is slashing its dividend by half in an effort to align its payout to shareholders with the cash flow it is generating.
In a press release, the 125-year-old giant said it plans to cut the company’s quarterly dividend to $.12 a share from $.24 a share. The change is effective starting in December when GE declares its next quarterly dividend. (See more: GE's Shrinking Cash Flow Signals Stock's Tragic Decline.)
“We understand the importance of this decision to our shareowners and we have not made it lightly. We are focused on driving total shareholder return and believe this is the right decision to align our dividend payout to cash flow generation," said John Flannery, the new Chairman and CEO of GE, who replaced Jeff Immelt in August. "The dividend remains an important component of GE’s capital allocation framework. We are acting with urgency to make GE simpler and stronger to drive growth and create more value for our shareowners.”
In recent years, the conglomerate has been struggling to cover its $8 billion dividend payout. This is the second time the company's dividend has been cut since the Great Depression. The company halved its dividend back in 2009 amid the financial crisis.
GE is hosting an investor update event later Monday during which more changes are expected to be announced. According to The Wall Street Journal, a person familiar with the matter said GE is expected to reveal a new business strategy in which it is focused on three units: aviation, power, and healthcare, and it aims to exit most of the rest of the businesses. Among those units it will be moving away from include GE Lighting and diesel locomotives noted the Journal. It's also reportedly looking to unload its majority holding in Baker Hughes which as of July is a stand-alone company. (See more: GE: Wall Street Doesn’t Expect a Quick Recovery.)
The moves on the part of the conglomerate are designed to boost cash flow and profit and thus the stock price, which has been suffering all year. Shares are down more than 35% since the start of 2017, making it the Dow's biggest loser this year. GE’s shares faced a lot of pressure this past summer when investors were asked to wait months for Flannery to complete his review of the company and reset its focus. While GE plans to focus on those three units, Flannery is expected to make it clear that the company will continue to evaluate the performance of the units.