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GE Stock Recovers on CEO’s Massive Buy-In; Wall Street Slams Fraud Report

GE Stock Recovers on CEO’s Massive Buy-In; Wall Street Slams Fraud Report

General Electric stock rebounded Friday as the company’s CEO bought a big chunk of shares as a show of faith, and analysts backed the company after a report of alleged fraud surfaced on Thursday.

Shares in the industrial giant rose 9% by midafternoon after falling over 11% on Thursday, the company’s biggest drop since April of 2008, according to CNBC.

Harry Markopolos, the famed whistleblower who took down Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme at Enron, released a report Thursday accusing GE of massive accounting fraud amounting to around $38 billion, which sent stocks into a nosedive. But Larry Culp, the company’s CEO and chair, claimed the report was baseless and purely “market manipulation.”

Culp backed up his claims by purchasing 252,000 shares for $7.93 each, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. Culp just about doubled his holdings of GE shares this week alone, according to CNBC.

Wall Street wasn’t convinced by the report, either.

Nick Heymann, co-group head of global industrial infrastructure at William Blair, found it hard to believe GE could have committed fraud, as the company has had multiple regulatory reviews of its finances over the last two years.

“As such, we tend to find the effort to portray GE’s current financial condition assuming all three alleged cash or noncash charges totaling ~$38 billion should have been previously recognized is at best disingenuous and at worst highly inaccurate,” Heymann said in a note to clients Thursday.

Andrew Kaplowitz, Citi research analyst and managing director, said there was a lot to digest in the report, but he told clients there were “sufficient shortcomings” in the claims. Kaplowitz also saw Culp’s share purchases Thursday as a “high conviction that the allegations do not represent incremental unknown challenges.”

“The 175 page report seems sensationalized and according to press reports the author appears to have a financial interest in a GE stock decline given a partnership with an undisclosed hedge fund,” Kaplowitz said in a note Thursday. “Overall, we think that some of the allegations were already known and others ‘known unknowns,’ which lead us to retain our conviction in the potential for share price outperformance over time.”