As a world leader in global research, General Electric employs 2,500 workers in their four state-of-the-art research facilities located in Niskayuna, New York; Bangalore, India; Shanghai, China; and Munich, Germany. The firm specializes in many of today’s leading technologies in sectors that include electric appliances and distribution, energy, oil and gas, aviation, media and entertainment, plus business and consumer finance – General Electric’s most profitable division. This article analyzes the disclosures contained within the notes to the financial statements related to cash and cash equivalents, inventories, and receivables. In addition, a discussion of the components of General Electrics’ cash and cash equivalents will be included.
GE Cash and Cash Equivalents
Cash and cash equivalents do not make up a significant portion of General Electric’s (GE) assets. According to GE’s 2007 Statement of Financial Position, cash and equivalents made up $15.7 billion of $795.3 billion total assets. This equates to less than two percent of GE’s total assets. The cash equivalents disclosure, located in Note 1: Summary of Significant Accounting Policies, states, “Debt securities with original maturities of three months or less are included in cash equivalents unless designated as available-for-sale and classified as investment securities.”
GE does not disclose specific components of their cash and cash equivalents. It is assumed that the firm generally classifies Treasury bills, commercial paper, money market funds, and temporary investments as cash and cash equivalents.
GE’s inventories are stated at the lower of cost or current market values. According to Note 1, of the GE 2007 Annual Report, “Cost for a significant portion of GE U.S. inventories is determined on a last-in, first-out (LIFO) basis. Cost of other GE inventories is determined on a first-in, first-out (FIFO) basis. LIFO was used for 56 percent and 49 percent of GE inventories at December 31, 2007 and 2006, respectively.”
In 2007, raw materials and work in process made up $7.9 billion or about 59 percent, of total inventories before LIFO revaluation. Finished goods comprised of $5 billion – close to 37 percent, while unbilled shipments, at $539 million, made up 4 percent of the $13.5 billion total inventories prior to LIFO revaluation. 2007 inventories are equal to $12.8 billion after LIFO revaluation of $623 million was deducted. Inventories equate to 1.6 percent of total assets.
GE’s receivables include GE Industrial customer receivables factored through a GECS affiliate, which is reported as financing receivables. “GE receivables balances at December 31, 2007 and 2006, before allowance for losses, included $11 billion and 8.8 billion, respectively, from sales of goods and services to customers, and $381 million and $175 million at December 31, 2007 and 2006, respectively, from transactions with associated companies.”
Infrastructure receivables in 2007 was $11 billion, healthcare $4.5 billion, NBC Universal $3.8 billion, Industrial $2.9 billion, and corporate items and eliminations was $526 million. Total current receivables make up 2.8 percent of total assets for the year.
While the focus of this paper is to analyze GE’s cash and cash equivalents, inventories, and receivables, it is worth noting that these assets only make up about 6.4 percent of GE’s $795 billion in total assets for the year ended. The large majority of GE’s assets are derived from financing receivables. Financing receivables consisted of $378 billion, or just under 47 percent of the firm’s total assets.
Cash and cash equivalents are disclosed as debt securities with original maturities of three months or less. Inventories are described as being stated at the lower of cost or current market values. While GE’s receivables are listed as GE Industrial customer receivables factored through a GECS affiliate. By analyzing these specific components of GE’s assets it is possible for financial report users to speculate as to which of GE’s sectors is responsible for the earnings.