By Ankit Ajmera
(Reuters) – General Electric expects to burn more cash than expected in the second quarter, as the industrial conglomerate struggles with weakness in its aviation business due to the coronavirus crisis, Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp said on Thursday.
Shares of GE, which makes aircraft engines and power plants, fell as much as 3.6% to $7.03 after Culp also warned that the company’s 2020 free cash flow will be negative.
GE’s second-quarter free cash outflow is expected to be between $3.5 billion and $4.5 billion, he said at a conference. That was bigger than analysts’ average estimate of an outflow of $2.5 billion, according to Refnitiv IBES data.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought air travel to a virtual standstill, hitting GE’s aviation business at a time when its power business was struggling with sluggish demand.
The company has cut thousands of jobs in a bid to save cash and last month pulled its full-year forecast, citing the uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“Losing that much money adds meaningfully to GE’s elevated net leverage burden,” Gordon Haskett analyst John Inch said, adding that the magnitude of cash outflow at GE places it out of step with most of its industrial peers.
Culp said GE’s commercial jet engine installs would fall about 45% in the second quarter, with sales of aircraft spares declining about 60%.
The coronavirus crisis, however, has boosted sales of the company’s healthcare products, with second-quarter orders expected to rise more than 100%, Culp said.
Reporting by Ankit Ajmera and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni.