How to buy General Electric shares

The US conglomerate General Electric has fallen a long way from its late 1990’s peak. Find out what the company's doing to try to recover and whether you should own some of its shares.
By: Harry Atkins
Harry Atkins
Harry joined us in 2019, drawing on more than a decade writing, editing and managing high-profile content for blue… read more.
Updated: May 18, 2021
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This guide will look at the history of General Electric, its performance, and the reasons for a precipitous fall over the past two decades. You can find out if now is a good time to invest in a recovery as well as the best brokers to use to do so.

Compare the best General Electric trading platform

If you have all the information you need already, you can get shares immediately by visiting one of our trusted brokers below. We’ve assessed all the best brokers and compared them so that picking the right choice for you is quick and easy. If you’re not ready to invest yet, keep reading for more information on General Electric.

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How to buy General Electric stock, a step-by-step guide

It’s not too difficult to get started on the stock market, so don’t worry even if you’re new to investing. These are the steps to follow in order to complete your investment:

  1. Choose a broker. The first thing you need to find is an online brokerage platform. There are many different options to choose from, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. The comparison table above can help you select the right broker for you, and you can head to our comprehensive broker reviews if you’re still unsure.
  2. Create an account. Once you’ve selected your broker, simply go to their website and create an account. The steps required for this will vary from platform to platform, but generally you can expect to have to provide your name, email address, phone number, and some form of photo identification.
  3. Deposit funds. Log into your broker account and select the option to deposit funds. Depending on your broker you’ll have a variety of payment options available; most brokers accept bank transfers and debit card payments, but not all accept e-wallets such as PayPal. Select your preferred payment method and deposit the amount of money you wish to invest in General Electric shares.
  4. Place an order for GE stock. Search for General Electric’s ticker symbol (GE) and see the current price at which the stock is trading. If you’re happy with the price, enter the amount of shares you wish to own and place your order.
  5. Execute your order. Once you have placed your order, your broker will automatically execute it for you and your General Electric shares will be listed in your account. Congratulations, you’ve just bought shares in General Electric!

What is General Electric? And should I invest?

General Electric (NYSE: GE) is an American industrial conglomerate. GE’s origins lie in the formation of the lightbulb and with the inventor Thomas Edison. After spending its early life focusing on electricity and power, the modern General Electric is a sprawling company with fingers in many different industries. It has interests in aviation, healthcare, and oil and gas, among others, alongside its original power division.

GE has been struggling ever since 2001, and especially since the 2008 financial crisis, during which it suffered badly because of its reliance on GE Capital, its finance division. GE Capital was heavily exposed to the mortgage industry and lacked the expertise of other main street investment banks to recover. 

A series of poorly timed acquisitions, a complex conglomerate structure, and being slow to adapt to a changing world have all contributed to the share price now hovering around $10, compared to nearly $60 at its peak at the turn of the century. This might offer the chance to profit from a rebound, but General Electric is a complicated company with a lot of challenges. Read on to find out more about them.

How has the company performed in recent years?

From a relatively strong position in 2017, GE experienced a 60% fall in value after being forced to make significant job cuts and slash its dividend to try to stem a series of annual losses. That precipitous fall took it to $7, lows it again hit during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The GE price has been very sensitive to the wider market performance and some of its biggest falls over the past 20 years match the stock market as a whole. The financial crisis was particularly bad, and it fell again – albeit from a much lower level – as the pandemic hit.

The biggest concern to any potential investor is the underlying financials of the business. After trimming down its GE Capital division after 2008, it still received criticism for an opaque structure, poor leadership and some further bad acquisitions, including a move into oil and gas just before energy prices slumped. 

At the start of 2017, GE announced job cuts that ran into the tens of thousands as it attempted to reverse its poor financial performance. Later that year, it announced further restructuring and cut its dividend. In 2018 it cut the dividend to its lowest possible point, 1p a share.

As one of the founder members of the Dow Jones Industrial Index and then part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for over a century, it saw itself unceremoniously dropped from it in 2018. All of that was enough to see the back of not one, but two CEOs as the GE share price hit its lowest price since way back in the 1980s. As is often the case, new management arrived with a promise to trim the business down and focus on its core divisions, which had prompted a small uptick in the stock price heading into 2020.

Is it a good time to buy General Electric shares now?

Having embarked on its new strategy, GE has had to deal with 2020 and all the coronavirus entails. It was particularly bad news for its aviation division, which makes up a substantial part of the conglomerate and was affected by the global collapse in international travel. 

The slimming down strategy could offer gains for investors looking to capitalise on a post-pandemic recovery. Two of its main industries, aviation and power, were some of the worst hit by COVID-19, and it was able to improve its financial state by selling off its Baker Hughes oil and gas division. Even during a difficult year, GE was able to reduce its debt, which is a positive sign, but any potential buyer still needs to take a close look at its fundamentals.

GE trades significantly below its peak and carries huge name recognition, which could still offer some opportunities for investors. At the same time, it hasn’t been able to escape bad news. At the back end of 2020, General Electric was caught in a $1bn fraud probe by the UK tax authority, HMRC. You can track the latest news on that as well as our market analysis with the links below.

General Electric (NYSE: GE) shares have advanced more than 11% since the beginning of January, and the current share price stands around $12.50. Goldman Sachs announced this Monday that it sees another 25% upside for General Electric and raised its 12-month price target on the stock to $15. Fundamental…

Buying, selling and trading General Electric shares for beginners

What to do before buying shares

You should always take the time to research a stock fully before investing your money, especially if you haven’t bought shares before. The more knowledge you have, the better your chances of making a wise investment. 

With that in mind, here’s a checklist to run through before you start.

  1. Research the company. You should always examine the fundamentals of a company first. What is General Electric? How did the company get its start? How did it grow? Is General Electric’s revenue and profit growth picking up? Is the company innovating? The more you know about General Electric, the better positioned you’ll be to make smart investment decisions.
  2. Make sure you understand the basics of stock investing. Before getting involved in the stock market, make sure you have an understanding of how it works. This will ensure that you have more clearly defined goals and have thought through how you will achieve them.
  3. Decide between share dealing and CFD trading. Choose the type of investment strategy you want to pursue, and make sure you have carried out the necessary fundamental or technical analysis for share dealing and CFD trading respectively.
  4. Set the size of your budget. The golden rule of investing is never to risk more than you can afford to lose. Not every investment you make will result in a profit, so it is important to set a budget that not only allows good potential for capital growth, but also protects against overly damaging losses.
  5. Find the right broker. Individual brokers each have their own pros and cons. Some will have low fees but have a user interface you struggle to understand, whereas others may be a bit more expensive but come with a range of features that you want to take advantage of. Our broker reviews can help you find the right platform for you.
  6. Examine broader market conditions. No stock exists in a vacuum, and it’s always important to analyse the general trends of the stock market as a whole before investing. If a bear market is setting in and stock prices are falling, it’s best to wait it out and invest your money later when the stock is cheaper. If, however, the market is looking bearish, you’ll want to make your investment quickly to get the maximum benefit from rising stock prices. Our news section can help you keep on top of movements in the financial markets.

What is the difference between buying, selling, and trading shares?

If you’re new to stock investing, then it’s important to understand the basics of how to buy, sell, and trade General Electric shares. Here’s a quick run-through of what’s involved in each.

Buying General Electric

This process involves finding a broker and placing an order for General Electric stock, as outlined in the steps further up this page. Ideally you want to time your investment when the stock’s price is low so that you can profit by selling the shares after they increase in value.

Selling General Electric

When you sell any General Electric shares you have bought, you’ll want to do so at a higher price than the one at which you bought to earn a profit. 

When you sell is up to you. You might decide to hold for a long period of time, hoping to benefit from the company growing steadily throughout. Or, if you see that General Electric’s stock is already up a lot compared to the price you bought it and you’ve noticed that the stock market is starting to fall, it might make sense to sell and take your profits to invest elsewhere. Equally, if the stock has fallen since you bought it and looks set to fall further, it might be a good idea to cut your losses by selling your shares.

Trading General Electric

Trading is the same process, it’s just done over shorter periods of time with the aim to make small profits on a regular basis. This means that you can make money faster and spend your profits in your day-to-day life – however, on the other side it means you can lose money faster as well. For inexperienced investors, we generally recommend making investments for at least 6 months to a year instead of making trades in quick succession.

You can trade General Electric shares through buying and selling shares, or by trading with CFDs. These allow investors to speculate on stock prices and trade with leverage in pursuit of bigger gains. CFDs trading is explained further in the next section, but it is worth noting that beginners should avoid trading with leverage. It comes with large risks and is best left to experienced investors.

Share dealing vs CFD trading

When it comes to investing in any stock, the two options you have are share dealing and trading. Which one of these methods to opt for largely depends on your investment timeline, with investors thinking long term tending to go for share dealing, and those looking for short term gains pursuing a more aggressive trading strategy.

Here’s a quick summary of the two approaches, and the pros and cons of each.

Share dealing 

Share dealing refers to the practice of buying and holding shares in a particular company over the long term. When investing like this, you’re seeking to profit either from dividend payments or an increase in the stock’s price over time.

When investing your money this way, it is important to do thorough fundamental analysis of the company in which you are investing. You want to put your money in a stock you believe will trend upwards over time, even if there is some market volatility along the way, rather than get distracted by shorter term peaks and troughs.

Pros

  • Can build wealth over time to achieve financial goals
  • Don’t need to be very reactive to short-term market movements
  • Some stocks will give you an income through regular dividend payments

Cons

  • Takes a long time to realise any profits
  • Your capital is tied up in stocks and cannot be used for other investments

CFD Trading 

If your aim is to generate profits in the short term, then you might be better off trading shares than holding them in your portfolio. Stock trades like this are executed using CFDs (contracts for difference), which allow investors to trade against the value of a stock without having to take ownership of it. When CFD trading, investors are looking to buy and sell stocks fast to profit from short-term fluctuations in value.

One aspect of CFD trading that many investors find attractive is that they allow you to trade with leverage. This means you can place large trades while only putting up a fraction of the value yourself – for instance, if a platform offered leverage of 1:10, you could put £10 into GE shares and be able to trade £100 worth. This can maximise profits if the market moves in your favour, but be careful as it can also lead to heavy losses.

When trading using CFDs, it is key to be skilled at technical analysis and reading stock price charts. As you’re trading stocks quickly and frequently, the fundamental strength of the company in which you’re investing isn’t as important as being able to predict how its stock price will rise and fall minute-by-minute.

Pros

  • Can generate fast profits if you read the market right 
  • Some platforms allow you to trade with leverage
  • Prevents your capital being tied up so you can take advantage of investment opportunities

Cons

  • Trading with leverage is risky and can lead to big losses
  • Doesn’t necessarily generate growth over the long term

Consider which approach suits you best and craft an investment strategy that works for you. If you need more information, then simply take our stock trading course and read our guide to CFD trading to get you up to speed. 

How to choose a broker

With the wide variety of online brokers available these days, it can be hard to figure out which is the best service to go with. Our comparison table and in-depth reviews can help you cut through the noise, but by and large these are the aspects you should be considering when selecting a broker:

  • Range of stocks available. The most important thing is that you can actually use the broker to find the shares you’re looking for. Some brokers offer more stocks than others, and many will allow you to trade other assets, such as forex and commodities.
  • Fees and commissions. You want to keep as large a chunk of your profits as you can, so it’s important to make sure your broker doesn’t charge high fees that can eat into your profits.
  • Regulation. You should only use regulated brokers to place trades and buy shares. Unregulated brokers can be risky and offer little to no protection if the business were to fail while you had funds in your account.
  • Payment methods available. You might want to get General Electric shares using a specific payment method, such as PayPal. Not all brokers accept every payment method, but using our comparisons you can search only the brokers that support the option you’re looking for.
  • Reputation. One of the strongest indicators of a broker’s reliability is the reputation it has with the customers who have used it. Brokers are online businesses, and as such many user experiences can be found online. You can check these out in addition to our reviews to make sure you choose the right platform.
  • Customer service. As you’re going to be investing your money using the platform, you want to check that the broker offers good customer service in case you have a query or something goes wrong.

Latest General Electric news

General Electric Company (NYSE: GE) opened about 2% up in the stock market on Tuesday as Goldman Sachs said it was the best industrial stock that will benefit from the reopening. The investment bank also added GE to its list of “top large cap ideas”.   Goldman Sachs has…
General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) said on Monday that its free cash flow and revenue in the fiscal fourth quarter topped experts’ forecast. But profit, it added, was weaker than expected in Q4. In separate news from the United States, Leon Black said on Tuesday that he will…
General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) said on Wednesday that its revenue in the fiscal third quarter contracted less than expected. The company also reported an unexpected profit on an adjusted basis. Its cash flow also came in positive in Q3. General Electric jumped about 5% in premarket trading on…
In its statement on Wednesday, General Electric (NYSE: GE) cited Coronavirus pandemic as it announced its revenue to have dropped significantly in the first quarter. At £16.50 billion, the company’s net quarterly revenue came in 8% lower as compared to the same quarter last year. GE made 4 pence…
The US dollar index declined after the government released the initial jobless claims for the week ending on April 4. The numbers showed that more than 6.6 million Americans signed for unemployment insurance claims. This was slightly below last week’s reading of 6.8 million.Dollar index falls on weak…
The trade war of the United States with China had imposed multiple restrictions on the U.S companies in doing business with the firms in China. In an announcement on Tuesday, however, the government was reported to have removed one such restriction.General Electric Co (NYSE:GE) received a license from the…

Try some of our stock market courses for beginners

To learn more before investing in General Electric, peruse our easy-to-follow educational courses. That way you’ll be better prepared to buy General Electric shares and build a sturdier financial future.

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Fact-checking & references

Our editors fact-check all content to ensure compliance with our strict editorial policy. The information in this article is supported by the following reliable sources.

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Invezz is a place where people can find reliable, unbiased information about finance, trading, and investing – but we do not offer financial advice and users should always carry out their own research. The assets covered on this website, including stocks, cryptocurrencies, and commodities can be highly volatile and new investors often lose money. Success in the financial markets is not guaranteed, and users should never invest more than they can afford to lose. You should consider your own personal circumstances and take the time to explore all your options before making any investment. Read our risk disclaimer >

Harry Atkins
Financial Writer
Harry joined us in 2019, drawing on more than a decade writing, editing and managing high-profile content for blue chip companies, Harry’s considerable experience in the… read more.