GE earnings rise on emerging market growth
NEW YORK (AP) — General Electric Co. has been re-energized.
Performance at all of the conglomerate's industrial segments is improving thanks to cost cutting, a shift in strategy and growth in emerging markets.
GE, based in Fairfield, Conn., reported an operating profit per share of 44 cents, a penny higher than analysts polled by FactSet expected. Perhaps more importantly for shareholders, GE's revenue rose 4 percent to $39.3 billion and beat Wall Street expectations. Shares rose over 3 percent Friday.
CEO Jeff Immelt said the outlook for developed markets remained uncertain. But China and other emerging markets, along with regions that are exploiting natural resources, are growing.
Immelt has been reshaping GE, focusing on its more traditional operations, such as making complex industrial equipment and providing services to companies. GE also makes refrigerators, CT-scanners, wind turbines, gas turbines and engines for jets and trains. In a new push, it also provides equipment and services to the oil and gas industry.
The company is shrinking its banking division and trimming other non-industrial operations like commercial real estate.
The shift has led to higher profit margins, a trend that continued in the fourth quarter. GE reported increased profits at all seven of its industrial segments, with growth topping 10 percent at four of them — oil and gas, energy management, aviation and transportation.
GE also improved its cash flow and in turn gave some cash back to shareholders. It repurchased $2.1 billion in stock in the quarter and $5.2 billion for the year, while boosting the quarterly dividend 12 percent to 19 cents per share.
In a conference call following the earnings released, Immelt called 2012 "a year we hit all of our financial commitments to investors." GE shares rose 17 percent last year.
Daniel Holland, an analyst at Morningstar, said he was encouraged to see the cost-cutting measures show up in improved profitability, and that the financial performance improved in nearly every division.