General Electric – How Are They Really Doing?

One of my favorite aspects of keeping up with the lighting industries is watching the business news, and what information companies voluntarily put out – as well as information they do not voluntarily put out.  Reading as much news and articles about huge companies like Philips and General Electric teaches you to dig down and actually read each article you come across, and not to skim.  Sometimes the whole point of the article is the seven words in the middle.

Such is the case with a lot of the news stories about General Electric.  One week we’re hearing about how they lost their AAA credit rating, and other days we’re hearing about huge investments.  Everything is so up and down lately with everything – one day we’re hearing about how AIG paid out bonuses to some of the same quants that caused all of this crap in the first place, and the next day we’re hearing about how our NEMA Lighting Index just experienced the worst quarter in a decade.  There’s good ol’ musical comedy quality news all over the place!

I get a lot of press releases from about a hundred companies every couple of days; as much as I hate that I do it, I also keep a loose eye on the stock market for a ton of these companies.  It just feels good to know as much information about the industries as I can – you would be amazed at how much news you can get by reading press releases.

I found two different stories about GE today, and they’re both positive bits of news from the company’s standpoint.  GE’s stock traded at $10.41 today, down two cents.  How do you think GE’s investments are going?  Everyone gets freaky at the talk of something like losing their credit rating, but what does it really mean?  It just means that GE might have a little difficulty selling their commercial paper on the market.  I’m certainly no stock analyst, though, that’s for sure.

GE’s two news stories related to investments  – the first was about an investment that was made by GE Capital into Georgia Gulf Corporation – a $175 million accounts receivable securitization agreement.  There are all kinds of details involved in this agreement – but essentially Georgia Gulf Corp needed $175 million for some working capital.  Who knows why the investment was made – Georgia Gulf is a leading manufacturer of chlorovinyls, aromatics, and vinyl-based building products.  They’re experiencing hard times just like everyone else – they needed GE’s $175 million, and they also just got a NYSE warning that they’re experiencing low market capitalization and equity.  Georgia Gulf did, not GE.  From the press release:

NORWALK, CT– March 23, 2009 — GE Capital’s corporate lending business today announced it provided a $175 million accounts receivable securitization facility to Georgia Gulf Corporation, a leading chemicals company. The proceeds will be used for working capital needs.

In this type of structure, GE provides an asset-based loan secured by the company’s accounts receivables.

Georgia Gulf Corporation is a leading, integrated North American manufacturer of two chemical lines, chlorovinyls and aromatics, and manufactures vinyl-based building and home improvement products. These products, marketed under Royal Group brands, include window and door profiles, mouldings, siding, pipe and pipe fittings, and deck, fence and rail products. Georgia Gulf, headquartered in Atlanta, GA, has manufacturing facilities located throughout North America.

“GE worked closely with us to quickly understand our business objectives and structured a facility to meet our needs,” said Greg Thompson, CFO of Georgia Gulf Corporation. “We appreciated their ability to commit to the entire facility amount and close quickly.”

The second bit of news involved an agreement that GE Hitachi Nuclear just entered into with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) to essentially raise India’s nuclear-generated electricity supply from 4.1 GW today to 60 GW by 2032.  From the release:

WILMINGTON, N.C.–23 March 2009– GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) today announced the signing of two agreements with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) as the companies prepare to collaborate on building multiple GEH-designed nuclear reactors to help meet India’s energy production goals.

GEH, a world-leading nuclear technology and services provider, signed separate agreements with Mumbai-based NPCIL, India’s only nuclear utility operating 17 reactors, and New Delhi-based BHEL, the country’s leading manufacturer and supplier of power generation equipment and components.

The two government-owned companies are helping lead India’s efforts to expand electricity generation from nuclear energy in the world’s largest democracy more than tenfold over the next two decades, from 4.1 GW today to 60 GW by 2032.

So, what do you think?  Apparently things can’t be too bad.  What a weird situation to be stuck with at these times, though – you’re General Electric, the economy sucks nails, but you have to keep on truckin’.

Check out GE Hitachi Nuclear‘s website and GE Capital‘s website.