General Electric is not having a good year. The company has been down of late, with stocks falling and earnings reports landing even lower than many people expected. By the numbers GE has dropped more than 30 percent, making it number 30 with a bullet when compared to, um, 29 other companies that make up the DOW stock average.
Yes, you read that right. GE is 30th out of 30 when compared to the other brands that make up the big names in the stock exchange.
In order to right the ship, GE has been shedding household name brands to lighten the proverbial load. Both NBC and GE Capital have been sold, and the company is considering selling off its iconic light bulb business as well. What’s next? Investors are curious … morbidly curious.
But the jettisoning of the brands has not saved GE from a possible consequence that would have been unthinkable for more than a century: GE might lose its blue-chip status as one to base the greater market on. This is a place GE has held for 110 years.
Right now, there’s nothing official that says GE is about to go, but multiple news agencies are asking, and S&P Global, which picks the DOW and S&P 500 are not saying.
If GE is tossed, there will be a precedent. In the early years since being added in 1897, GE was added and pulled multiple times. However, the company was placed back on in 1907, where it has stayed ever since.
DOW average components are measured by stock price, not by market value. At $21.40 per share, GE is in the basement of that choice group. Boeing, traded at $236 a share has a huge advantage, as do Goldman Sachs and 3M. The massive discrepancy between top and bottom is not something the DOW deciders like to have. They figure that level of difference may mess with the average value.
While companies being added and dropped is not terribly uncommon, it’s not an everyday occurrence either. The DOW prizes every vestige of stability it can get … something not easy to come by in the volatile stock market. So, there is more to this than bookkeeping.
But what does this mean for GE’s brand overall? Well, aside from the obvious, being dropped from the DOW average would be a significant brand blow to a company that has been a bedrock American brand for generations.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.