GE profit, revenue top Wall Street forecasts

Sat Apr 21, 2012 5:21am EDT
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By Scott Malone

(Reuters) - General Electric Co (GE.N: Quote) topped Wall Street's profit and revenue forecasts for the first quarter, helped by strong demand for energy equipment and railroad locomotives.

The largest U.S. conglomerate said on Friday industrial orders had risen 20 percent in the quarter and that selling prices had improved in most of its businesses. This should help Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt achieve his goal of boosting profit margins this year.

"Global markets are improving, but volatility remains," Immelt told investors on a conference call.

He confirmed the company's 2012 growth forecast, saying, "everything we see in the first quarter supports double-digit earnings growth."

GE shares rose 1.9 percent to $19.51 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Investors noted that the company had notched solid organic growth -- a measure that factors out the influence of acquisitions or fluctuations in exchange rates.

"Organic revenue growth in the industrial business was great," said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor Advisory Corp, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, firm that owns GE shares. "GE has been a disappointment for a long time ... (and) is now finally going to get back to where its earnings can compound at a rate better than the S&P for a while."

GE's transportation unit, which makes locomotives, posted 41 percent sales growth, while revenue at the GE Capital arm it is trimming declined 12 percent.   Continued...

Buildings are seen reflected on the GE Building also known as 30 Rockefeller Plaza, in New York in this January 22, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/Files