Struggling industrial conglomerate General Electric Co. (GE) received a much-needed break on Monday in light of news that the company would replace former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) John Flannery with current board member and former Danaher CEO Lawrence Culp, Jr. As shares of the Boston-based industrial giant surge in the news, one team of bulls on the Street views Culp as a driver for GE's operational improvements, writing that the decision should "put a floor in the stock," which was removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) earlier this year after a sustained period of underperformance.
In a note to clients on Monday, RBC Capital Markets lifted its rating on GE stock from Sector Perform to Outperform, applauding the successful track record of its new leader. (See also: GE to Continue Free Fall: JPMorgan.)
"Investor confidence in Larry Culp's strategic vision and operating excellence should put a floor in the stock," wrote RBC's Deane Dray. Dray highlighted Mr. Culp's 14-year-tenure at Washington, D.C.-based conglomerate Danaher, during which the company's stock performance was five times better than that of the S&P 500 index over that period. RBC wrote that the firm has "known Mr. Culp for 15+ years" and that his team has a "deep respect for his leadership and relentless focus on operational excellence and accountability."
Also on Monday, GE announced that it expects to fall short of its previous 2018 earnings per share (EPS) and free cash flow guidance.
"To be clear, there is still much to fix at GE, but the market can now have full confidence in the senior leader at the helm," added the RBC analyst.
Not all analysts are so upbeat on the new management shakeup. On Tuesday, credit rating agency Moody's said it was reviewing GE's financial situation and may downgrade its debt.
With trading up 0.6% at $12.40, GE stock reflects a 29% loss year-to-date (YTD), sharply underperforming the S&P 500's 9.9% return over the same period.
(For more, see also: GE Forced into 'Vicious Cycle' as Power Division Eats at Profits: UBS.)