By Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch
CEO Culp still in the money on $5 million worth of stock he bought last week
Shares of General Electric Co. fell Monday, as the bounce off last week's lows lost some steam, while the industrial conglomerate continued to defend itself from an attack by a short seller.
The stock(GE) shed 1.4% to $8.67, after soaring 9.7% on Friday. The stock has to rise another 4.2% from current levels to erase last Thursday's 11.3% plunge () to a 7 1/2 -month low in the wake of a critical research note from Harry Markopolos, who made his name blowing the whistle on the Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Since the Markopolos report, which alleged fraudulent accounting practices, the company has rushed to defend itself (), with Chief Executive Larry Culp, and some other company insiders, putting more of their own money on the table.
Culp called the report "market manipulation--pure and simple (/)," as it was written with the sole purpose to generate downward volatility in the stock "so that he and his undisclosed hedge fund can personally profit."
Don't miss: GE is the new target of Madoff whistleblower ().
That same day, Culp backed up his words with another $2 million bet on GE stock, as Thursday's dip allowed him to average down. GE disclosed Thursday in a Form 4 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that Culp bought 252,200 shares at $7.93.
Just days before the Markopolos report came out, Culp disclosed on Aug. 12 that he spent about $3 million to buy 331,684 shares at $9.04.
And with Thursday's purchase, he was able to lower the weighted average price he paid for the 583,884 total shares he bought last week to $8.56, which is 1.3% below current share prices. The purchases increased Culp's overall stake in his employer to 1.17 million shares, or 0.013% of the 8.73 billion shares outstanding as of June 30.
Separately, GE board member Paula Reynolds spent over $85,000 to buy 10,000 GE shares at an average price of $8.53 on Thursday, and Steve Strazik, senior vice president and CEO of GE's troubled Gas Power business, paid about $279,000 to buy 34,836 shares at $8.01.
On Monday, GE added to its response to the Markopolos report by saying it believed current reserves "are well-supported" for its portfolio characteristics. "Our future liabilities depend on variables that will play out over decades, not years, and are dictated by rigorous testing processes, sound actuarial analysis, and the application of regulatory and accounting rules," the company stated in a letter to investors.
CFRA analyst Jim Corridore affirmed his buy rating on GE's stock and $12 stock price target. "Overall, we think GE can manages the issue thoughtfully over time, and we believe the recent stock price reaction to the news was too severe," Corridore wrote in a note to clients.
GE's stock has tumbled 12.3% over the past three months, but is still up 19.2% year to date. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 1.8% the past three months and advanced 12.0% over the past year.
-Tomi Kilgore; 415-439-6400; AskNewswires@dowjones.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 20, 2019 07:25 ET (11:25 GMT)
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