updated 6/16/2008 12:01:09 PM ET 2008-06-16T16:01:09

Shares of General Electric Co. fell to their lowest point in more than four years Monday when an analyst downgraded the company's shares and predicted a challenging environment for its business operations.

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Shares fell to $28.46 Monday before rebounding slightly to $28.60, a drop of nearly 2 percent for the industrial conglomerate, which makes jet engines, railroad locomotives, water treatment plants, household appliances and owns NBC television. Shares were at their lowest since Nov. 17, 2003, when the company's stock traded at $27.67.

The drop came as JPMorgan's C. Stephen Tusa Jr. cut GE to "neutral" from "overweight" in a note to investors. He predicted difficulties for GE's operations, particularly slower sales for its aviation unit amid capacity cuts at U.S. airlines. He also predicted lower income from GE's real estate operations on challenges in the real estate market.

In addition, the analyst saw difficulties for NBC Universal on weaker advertising sales, while its industrial segment could also see slower sales.

Still, Tusa said the company continues to have attractive assets and talented management that could move the company forward if it were restructured properly.

A phone call was placed to GE seeking comment.

Tusa lowered his 2009 earnings outlook to $2.30 per share from $2.42. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect earnings of $2.44 per share.

In April, GE shocked analysts with a 6 percent drop in first-quarter earnings to $4.3 billion. GE lowered its outlook for earnings in April from $2.42 to between $2.20 and $2.30 per share.

Last month, GE announced plans to sell or spin off its appliance business as part of a plan to exit slower growth and more volatile businesses. The company has already sold its insurance, plastics and other businesses.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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