February 23, 2024

G.E. Tops Forecasts and Raises Dividend

Net income was $3.4 billion in the first three months of 2011, or 31 cents a share, compared with $1.9 billion and 17 cents in the quarter a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, earnings were 33 cents a share, topping the average estimate of 28 cents from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Earnings from continuing operations were $3.5 billion compared with $2.4 billion in the quarter a year ago.

With the results, G.E. joins other companies in the manufacturing sector that have topped forecasts this quarter, including United Technologies, Eaton and Honeywell.

The chief executive of G.E., Jeffrey R. Immelt, said in a statement that the company had emerged from the recession a stronger company.

“GE Healthcare, Transportation and Aviation delivered strong results,” Mr. Immelt said. “Strategic investments in high-growth segments have strengthened the company’s energy portfolio and position that business to return to growth in the second half of this year. We ended the quarter with a record high backlog of $177 billion.”

GE Capital also had a strong first quarter, earning $1.8 billion after tax,” he said.

Over all, revenue rose 6 percent, to $38.45 billion in the first quarter, exceeding analysts forecasts of $34.64 billion. Revenue in the same quarter a year ago was $36.2 billion.

The company also raised its quarterly dividend by a penny, to 15 cents, beginning in the third quarter, the report said. It had increased its dividend twice in 2010. In July, it rose to 12 cents a share from 10 cents, and in December it rose further, to 14 cents. The company paid 31 cents a share until February 2009, when, for the first time since the Great Depression, the board cut its dividend to conserve cash.

G.E. also completed the sale of 51 percent of NBC Universal to the Comcast cable network in the quarter, which resulted in an after-tax gain of 4 cents a share. In the deal, Comcast paid General Electric just under $6.2 billion in cash and contributed its pay TV channels like E Entertainment Television and the Golf Channel, worth $7.25 billion, to NBC Universal.

While G.E. is a household name as a manufacturer of everyday products like lights bulbs and electric fans, but it also has a diverse portfolio of finance and business units.

Its lending division, GE Capital, is the nation’s largest nonbank financial institution, and it has provided more than half of the company’s profit in some recent years. But the unit was struggling amid the fallout from the collapse of the real estate market, and Mr. Immelt has tried refocus G.E. more toward the industrial sector.

The company said GE Capital reported net income of $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2011, up from $583 million in the quarter a year ago.

“With losses having peaked, we are originating new business at attractive margins and our funding costs continue to be favorable,” Mr. Immelt said of GE Capital.

General Electric said when announcing its last results in January that it had a backlog of orders that positioned it for growth in 2011, with the transportation, health care and finance units expected to lead in earnings. On Thursday, Mr. Immelt said the company’s backlog, a gauge of future results, was $177 billion.

The company has continued to diversify and make acquisitions, while trying to build its businesses in crucial sectors like energy. Early this month G.E. announced plans to build the nation’s largest photovoltaic panel factory, with the goal of becoming a major player in the market.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/22/business/22electric.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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