Image source: General Electric
By Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Wednesday that General Electric Co has agreed to pay a $200 million penalty to settle charges for misleading investors over how it was generating earnings in its power and insurance businesses.
In 2017 and 2018, the company’s stock price fell almost 75% as challenges in its power and insurance businesses were disclosed to the public, the SEC said.
The company misled investors by failing to explain that one-quarter of its GE Power profits in 2016 and nearly half in the first three quarters of 2017 stemmed from reductions in its prior cost estimates, the SEC said.
The order also finds that GE failed to tell investors that its reported increase in current industrial cash collections was coming at the expense of cash in future years, the SEC said.
“Public companies must provide an accurate picture of their business. It’s really very simple,” SEC enforcement chief Stephanie Avakian told reporters during a press briefing on Wednesday.
“You must speak accurately, about the manner in which you are meeting financial targets and about trends and uncertainties, you are aware of in your business.”
Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Doina Chiacu and David Gregorio