GE is a ‘classic falling knife,’ says technician

As the broader markets make new highs, General Electric can’t get out of its own way. And according to one chart watcher, investors should expect more pain for the oldest component of the Dow.

GE share prices are down 8 percent in January and on track for the 11th-straight month in the red.

“This is a classic falling knife, and we recommend staying away,” Ari Wald, head of technical analysis at Oppenheimer, told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Monday. “It comes down to a very basic formula for us: Bearish trend equals bearish outlook.”

GE’s recent sell-offs have only confirmed what Wald and Oppenheimer have sensed for some time. Oppenheimer has kept a sell rating on GE shares since February, and GE’s share price has nearly halved in that time.

This year’s losses add to a 45 percent decline in 2017, its worst annual performance since 2008. The stock is the worst performer on the Dow this year and is one of only four components to trade negative for the year.

But, some analysts remain optimistic on GE’s outlook. Bill Baruch, president of Blue Line Futures, is one of them.

“As ugly as this chart looks, I think there are some compelling reasons to get long,” Baruch told “Trading Nation.”

Among the reasons, Baruch sees value in GE’s price-to-earnings ratio. GE currently has a price-to-earnings ratio of 15.7 times forward earnings, below the S&P 500’s average P/E of 18.5. Its three major competitors — United Technologies, Honeywell and 3M — are above the S&P 500 average P/E.

Baruch also sees a level of support forming around GE’s current prices that could bring a long-term investor in the stock some comfort.

“If it can continue to close on a weekly basis above $16.20, I think it becomes very interesting to the long side,” Baruch said.

GE has not closed a week below $16.20 a share since December 2011. It ended Monday’s trading session at $16.17.

GE shares came under pressure on Monday after Bank of America downgraded its rating to neutral from buy and cut its price target to $17 from $22. Its revision was based on the expectation GE will cut its 2018 forecasts when it reports fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday.

Bank of America’s rating is now in-line with the majority of analysts surveyed by FactSet. Most firms have a hold rating on GE and an average $20.21 price target. Deutsche Bank has the lowest price target at $15, while Melius Research has the highest at $28.

GE shares began to spiral last week after the company disclosed a $6.2 billion charge in its legacy insurance business. Its last sell-off was in mid-November, when the company announced it would cut its dividend, only the second time it had done so since the Great Depression.

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