GE Capital is the financial services unit of General Electric Company (GE). GE Capital provides commercial lending and leasing, as well as a range of financial services for health care, media, communications, entertainment, consumers, real estate, and aviation. GE Capital focuses primarily on loans and leases that it underwrites to hold on its own balance sheet rather than on generating fees by originating loans and leases, then selling them to third parties. Most of GE Capital’s commercial loans are to small and mid-sized companies, spread across multiple industries and geographies and secured by tangible assets. More than 70% of GE Capital’s loans are under $100 million. GE Capital's consumer lending activities are also diversified by product and geography, and include operations in 55 countries.

GE Capital has 60,000 employees worldwide, operating in more than 55 countries, with total assets of $551B. It was rated AA+ with stable outlook by S&P.

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In 2010, GE Capital's earnings nearly doubled to $3.3 billion from $1.4 billion in 2009, excluding pension plan and accounting change expenses.[1] Its revenue fell 5% for the year to $47 billion from $50 billion.

Financial Overview[2]

The segment recovered somewhat in 2010 as the division stabilized its lending portfolio, the main cause of its problems and the crisis. The division reported fewer delinquencies in 2010 across its various lines of business, including real estate.[1]

GE Capital Finance earnings declined to $2.3 billion and $8.6 billion in 2009 and 2008, respectively, in a challenging economic environment, including disruptions in capital markets, challenging credit markets and rising unemployment. Throughout 2008 and 2009, GE Capital tightened underwriting standards, shifted teams from origination to collection and maintained a proactive risk management focus.

Business Segments

Commercial Lending & Leasing

Americas

In the U.S., Canada and Mexico, GE Capital is a leading provider of commercial lending and leasing for businesses of all sizes, in a wide array of industries. It works closely with its customers to provide financing to purchase, lease and distribute equipment. It provides capital for corporate acquisitions, refinancing and restructuring as well as services to manage large fleets of cars and other equipment.

Europe, Middle East & Africa

In EMEA, GE Capital is one of the region's largest commercial lending organizations. It provides a wide range of services such as factoring, leveraged finance, fleet management, commercial loans and leasing to businesses of all sizes. GE Capital has over 500,000 customers in EMEA. Its projects include the $8 billion commercial finance joint venture between GE and Mubadala, based in Abu Dhabi, which is focused on high-return investment opportunities throughout the region.

Asia and the Pacific

GE Capital has a strong presence across Asia and the Pacific, serving more than 15 million businesses and consumers in all major markets across the region. It offers a wide array of financial products and services to support the needs of its customers. Businesses and institutional clients have access to financial solutions including acquisition finance, inventory and working capital financing, leveraged and sponsor finance, equity capital, equipment leasing and fleet management.

Consumer Financing

GE Capital Consumer Financing operates in two divisions, Retail Finance and Retail Consumer Finance. Consumer Financing works with businesses of all sizes to offer a variety of financing solutions to their customers. The Retail Finance segment offers credit services, enabling consumers to make purchases through a range of flexible financial products and leveraging a broad network of businesses and retailers. Retail Consumer Finance (RCF) provides private label credit cards, Dual Card, Flex Loans, all-tender loyalty, and gift cards.

Global Banking

Global Banking businesses include wholly owned banks, finance companies, and joint ventures with leading partners in key strategic markets. Its businesses offer flexible financial solutions to millions of consumers and businesses in 24 countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Offering a full range of products, from credit cards and personal loans, to auto financing and savings products, Global Banking helps clients and partners meet their business goals. Banking services are offered by many of the Consumer Financing businesses which are focused on high-return investment opportunities throughout the region.

GE's Consumer Finance businesses provide financing for millions of consumers. As a global provider of credit services and credit card programs, GE Capital enables consumers to make purchases by offering a wide array of flexible financial products and services through a broad and diverse network of businesses that includes retailers, dealers and others.

Asia and the Pacific

GE Capital's consumer finance solutions in the Asia Pacific region range from credit cards and sales finance to mortgages and personal loans.

Energy Financial Services

GE Energy Financial Services’ experts invest globally across the capital spectrum in essential, long-lived and capital-intensive energy assets that meet the world’s energy needs. In addition to capital, GE Energy Financial Services offers the best of GE’s technical know-how, technology innovation, financial strength and rigorous risk management. Based in Stamford, Connecticut, the GE business unit helps its customers and GE grow through new investments, strong partnerships and optimization of its $23 billion in assets.

GE Capital Aviation Services

GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) is a leading global provider of commercial aircraft leasing and financing. With over 1,800 owned and managed aircraft, it serves more than over 245 customers in 75 countries.

Real Estate Financing

Serving global markets for over 30 years, GE Capital Real Estate is a leading commercial real estate investment company. We provide real estate lending, equity capital, asset management and investment management in 31 countries across North America, Europe and Asia.

Trends and Forces

GE Commercial Finance is well diversified, with its assets spread across 66 industries. As such, poor performance in any one of them would have a limited impact on Commercial Finance's performance.

Real Estate Market - buying at bargain prices

The division is most exposed to the real estate market, which accounts for around 13% of its total assets. Because Commercial Finance accounts for around 44% of GE's total assets, fluctuations in real estate prices can impact the value of GE's assets overall. In 2006, Commercial Finance's real estate investments gained 76% as a result of higher property values. The company has a well-worn playbook for dealing with distressed properties. After the savings and loan crisis, GE Capital bought many properties at bargain prices. When the company forecloses on a borrower, it moves quickly to salvage the remaining value from the property, renovating, updating the amenities, or using local connections to produce new occupants. Ronald Pressman, CEO of GE Capital Real Estate, said "We take over assets and run them like a factory." [3] However, the bottom in the real estate market by some indications has not come yet, which means this strategy will only do so much for GE in the short term.

Interest Rates

Rising interest rates can have several effects on GE's Commercial Finance division. In terms of real estate, a rise in interest rates makes borrowing money more expensive, which can lead to a slowdown in the housing market and lower property values. Changing interest rates can impact the value of Commercial Finance's sizable real estate holdings. Interest rates' effects aren't limited to the real estate market, however. Higher interest rates generally result in lower consumer spending across the board, which can impact both the value of Commercial Finance's assets and demand for its services. Lower interest rates, though they're generally used as a tool to jumpstart a sluggish economy, would likely benefit GE by increasing consumer spending. Despite this, GE Commercial Finance does not rely on capital markets to raise cash for lending, instead this division lends money earned elsewhere by GE.

Global Presence

GE Capital operates in nearly 50 countries, limiting its exposure to economic downturns in any one market. For example, the impact of rising U.S. interest rates or slumps in the domestic housing market is somewhat mitigated by the fact that over three-fourths of GE Money's business comes from international sources. Additionally, emerging international markets often provide larger growth potential than established markets. International expansion has been a key source of growth for GE Money, but it does entail a certain degree of risk. Emerging markets can be relatively volatile, and the wide range of laws and regulations can be difficult to navigate.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 New York Times, "GE Capital Bounces Back"
  2. GE Annual Report 2009
  3. BusinesWeek "The Real Estate Drag on GE"
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