General Electric expects negative cash flow in first quarter 2021: CEO

Business

General Electric Co expects a cash outflow in the first quarter of 2021 despite a year-on-year increase in cash generation, Chief Executive Officer Larry Culp said at a Barclays Industrial Conference on Tuesday.

Culp said the first three months of the year tends to be the industrial conglomerate’s “softest” quarter.

Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv, on average, expect the Boston-based company to report a cash outflow of $671.7 million in the quarter through March.

GE’s shares were last trading up 1.2% at $11.87 in afternoon trade.

GE last month forecast free-cash flow of $2.5 billion to $4.5 billion this year after generating cash flow of $4.4 billion in the December quarter.

Free-cash flow is closely watched by investors as a sign of the health of GE’s operations and ability to pay down debt.

Culp said he expects a “pronounced” recovery this year in the aviation services business, which tends to be more profitable. GE has said services are critical to the recovery of its aviation business, usually its most profitable and most cash-generative segment.

The company saw a 33% year-on-year decline in aviation services revenue last year as air traffic plunged during the coronavirus pandemic.