Strong orders lift GE above 4Q expectations

By Reuters
Posted Jan. 21 at 6:25 a.m.

General Electric Co., reported better-than-expected earnings, helped by the recovery of its finance arm and a rise in revenue at its industrial units, including a sharp pickup in sales of locomotives.

The world’s biggest maker of electric turbines and jet engines also reported a 12 percent increase in orders, driving its backlog — a key predictor of future sales — to $175 billion.

The largest U.S. conglomerate said Friday that fourth-quarter net income came to $4.5 billion, or 42 cents per share, up from $3 billion, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier.

Profit from continuing operations came to 36 cents per share, topping the 32 cents analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 1 percent, to $41.38 billion, beating the $39.9 billion analysts had expected.

“Strong performance at GE Capital was also encouraging,” said Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt, who has been named to head a new economic advisory panel by President Barack Obama.

Its shares rose 2.1 percent, to $18.80, in pre-market trading.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based GE recorded 10 cents per share in one-time charges, including $500 million set aside to cover the cost of cleaning up chemicals it had dumped into New York’s Hudson River more than three decades ago. That charge was offset by 10 cents per share of one-time gains, including a tax settlement.

GE shares have risen almost 11 percent in the last year, roughly in line with the Dow Jones industrial average.

U.S. regulators on Tuesday approved GE’s plan to sell a 51 percent stake in GE’s NBC Universal unit to No. 1 U.S. cable operator Comcast Corp., in a move that sets the stage for the conglomerate’s eventual exit from the media business.

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