It’s been a long and winding road for General Electric (GE), one of the first 12 companies to be included as part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average when the list was first launched in 1896. Founded by none other than Thomas Edison, who created the Edison Lamp Company in the late 1880s to market his newest innovation, the electric lightbulb, GE as a company was formed in 1889 by Edison’s financial backers, including J.P. Morgan and the Verderbilt family, as a way to support all of the various applications for electricity that were emerging at the time. In the early days, those applications included everything from railroads, to radio, to power generation and more.

Today GE is one of the largest conglomerates in the world, with interests in aviation, healthcare, renewable energy, additive manufacturing, financial services and, of course, electric lighting.

For 2018, GE’s worldwide revenue was more than $121 billion, placing it 18th on the Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. companies by revenue. It employs more than 230,000 people across 130 countries.

Rationale

For more than a century, the most direct way to gain exposure to General Electric has been to buy its listed shares. But lately there have been a number of good reasons for investors to reconsider that approach. For one thing, GE was delisted from the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 2018 after its enterprise value was nearly cut in half in 2017 following years of disappointing financial results. Between 2016 and 2018, the company lost 74% of its market cap, due in large part to bad moves in its power generation business.

However, investors interested in gaining exposure to the sectors that General Electric competes, rather than buying GE shares themselves should consider buying funds that provide exposure to General Electric and other conglomerates. After all, the return drivers that will benefit GE might also benefit other similar companies in aviation, manufacturing, consumer staples and more. As investment management is gradually moving to the construction of portfolios using ETFs and mutual funds in addition to single stocks, investors would do well to consider gain exposure to firms like General Electric through these types of funds.

Investing in GE

A search on Magnifi suggests that investors can gain access to GE via a number of different funds and ETFs, including those shown below.

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