General Electric is getting a new finance chief. Given what's coming at the company, it makes sense.
On Thursday, GE (ticker: GE) announced that Chief Financial Officer Carolina Dybeck Happe will transition out of the her role, which will be assumed by GE Aerospace CFO Rahul Ghai. That transition comes in September. Dybeck Happe will stay on as an adviser until she is expected to leave GE in February 2024.
By the time Dybeck Happe leaves, it's likely there will be no more GE as investors know it today. GE's power businesses are due to be spun out in early 2024, under the name GE Vernova . That will leave just GE Aerospace.
The precise date for the spin hasn't been set. No permanent CFO for GE Vernova has been named yet. GE says that decision will come later.
"Simply stated, the standalone GE Aerospace company should have an aerospace CFO," wrote RBC Capital Markets analysts Deane Dray and Ken Herbert in a Thursday report. Dray covers industrial stocks. Herbert covers the aerospace industry.
"This announcement is another sign that the final separation is on track, as GE approaches its early-2024 separation of GE Vernova, leaving GE Aero [as the remaining company]," added the pair.
RBC has a Buy rating on GE stock and a price target of $113 a share.
Wall Street isn't surprised. Neither are investors. GE shares have added about $1 since the announcement and are up 0.4%, at $104.42, in midday trading Friday. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average are both up too over the past couple of trading days.
Dybeck Happe arrived at GE in late 2019 and, assumed the CFO role in early 2020, to help CEO Larry Culp transform the company, a process that will end up creating three firms: GE HealthCare Technologies (GEHC), GE Vernova, and GE Aerospace.
Culp will continue to run GE Aerospace.
"Carolina has played a crucial role over the last few years, helping to significantly reduce GE's debt [and] improve our financial and operating performance," he said in a news release. "Under Carolina's leadership, GE's finance teams have become stronger operational partners to our businesses, creating insights to drive performance while deepening our focus on free cash flow."
GE has paid down more than $100 billion in debt over the past few years, some of it before Dybeck Happe came on board. Still, the overall restructuring of the balance sheet and finance function at GE has been an enormous task. Consider that GE Capital, the company's longtime finance business, is no longer reported as a separate business segment. It once held hundreds of billions in assets.
She "helped lead GE through the pandemic," wrote Jefferies analyst Sheila Kahyaoglu in a Thursday report, adding that the announcement was no surprise. She rates GE shares Buy and has a $120 price target for the stock.
"As current CFO of GE Aerospace and having formerly served as Executive Vice President and CFO of Otis Worldwide and prior to that as Senior Vice President and CFO of Harris Corporation, we view incoming CFO Rahul Ghai as bringing a strong track record of performance to the new role," wrote Citigroup analyst Andrew Kaplowitz in a Thursday report. He rates GE shares Buy and has a $114 price target for the stock.