GE Sends Mixed Signals

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It was a mixed bag for General Electric (NYS: GE) , which reported profit that beat analysts' estimates but came up short on revenue. The conglomerate reported a profit of $3.73 billion, or $0.35 a share for the period, compared to the previous year's return of $4.54 billion.

Fourth-quarter earnings for the company dipped 18%, reflecting GE's sale of a majority interest in media conglomerate NBC Universal last year. GE's industrial businesses pulled ahead, with infrastructure orders climbing to a record $28.6 billion -- up 15% from a year ago. Orders in emerging markets were also on the rise, showing a 26% increase. The rise in GE's infrastructure orders allows the company to go into 2012 with a strong backlog of orders.

Investors shouldn't be too worried about GE missing revenue marks. The company continues to create value for shareholders through its share buyback program. GE also plans to increase its dividend in line with earnings later this year. This is a stable company that delivers a solid dividend. The rare earnings miss creates an opportunity for investors to scoop up shares of GE at a discounted price.

Overall in 2011, GE's earnings grew 22% from the year prior. The company generated earnings of $14.15 billion, or $1.23 a share last year. Get all the news and commentary on GE by adding it to My Watchlist -- The Motley Fool's free tool that lets you track and monitor your favorite stocks.

At the time this article was published Foolish contributor Tamara Rutter does not own shares of any companies mentioned here. Follow her on Twitter, where she uses the handle: @TamaraRutter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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