Why General Electric Stock Popped 8% Today

What happened

For the second time in a week -- but the first time this year -- General Electric (NYSE: GE) shares are soaring, closing Wednesday trading up 6.3% after rising as much as 8.1% earlier in the day.

But once again, there appears to be little reason for the stock to be rising.

So what

No major news of note concerning General Electric stock came out today. In fact, casting about for a reason to explain the shares' rise, Marketwatch reporters were left with no other explanation than the one I pointed to earlier last month, noting that "since longtime GE bear analyst Stephen Tusa at J.P. Morgan upgraded the stock Dec. 13, the stock has rallied 12.4%."

It seems that the opinion of market experts is that GE stock is simply "bounc[ing] off last month's 9 1/2-year low." Or, simply put, GE stock is going up ... because it's already gone down so much there's really no place left to go but up.

Now what

I don't buy that argument, however.

Is GE stock down a lot? Sure it is. Even after two big bounces in the space of a week, GE shares still sell for less than half what they cost a year ago. And yet, the fact remains: This is a company with a $70 billion market cap (that just happens to cost only $8-and-change a share), carrying $115 billion in debt.

GE's not earning profits. Its free cash flow is negative (according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence). And to top it all off, GE's sales were down last quarter -- so things are getting worse, not better.

If GE were any other stock than GE, the idea that a stock in these dire straits couldn't go down anymore would be patently ridiculous. There's still a lot of room to go between here and zero.

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Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.