Even as its lucrative jet engine business struggled with the pandemic-led collapse of air travel, driving down company revenue, General Electric saw far smaller cash outflow than estimated in the first quarter. The company also reaffirmed its full-year free cash flow and earnings per share outlook.
The US industrial conglomerate reported a cash outflow of $845 million compared with an outflow of $2.2 billion last year. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv, on average, expected a cash outflow of $1.3 billion.
The first quarter tends to be GE’s slowest period of the year. However, improved earnings at all its industrial businesses except aviation and better working capital helped slow the cash burn.
Free-cash flow is closely watched by investors as a sign of the health of GE’s operations and ability to pay down debt.
Its jet-engine business, usually GE’s cash cow, is still reeling from the plunge in global air travel. The unit generated revenue of $4.99 billion during the quarter, down 28% from a year ago and below analysts’ estimate of $5.31 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
GE’s shares, which have gained over 145% since last May, were down 2.36% at $13.25 in pre-market trade.
On an adjusted basis, GE earned 3 cents per share in the quarter, compared with 2 cents per share a year earlier.