Larry Culp’s first appeal to General Electric Co. investors didn’t go so well back in October. This time it’s a different story.

GE soared the most in almost a decade as the new chief executive officer detailed his efforts to reduce the company’s debilitating debt load, fix the ailing power business and ease lingering uncertainties weighing on the shares. GE also announced a deal to settle a Justice Department probe into its defunct subprime-mortgage unit for less than investors had feared.

“We are going to de-lever the balance sheet while we strengthen the underlying operations of the business,” Culp said...