GE Earnings Top Estimates but Revenues Miss Expectations

General Electric
General Electric

General Electric's (GE) third-quarter results came in mixed, with earnings topping Wall Street estimates, but revenues missing them by a long shot. The industrial behemoth saw a 29% increase in third-quarter earnings from continuing operations of $3.2 billion, compared to $2.5 billion in the same period last year as the "economic environment continues to improve." GE beat analysts' earningsexpectations of 27 cents per share, posting EPS of 29 cents.

Revenues, however, came in well below Wall Street estimates of $37.4 billion, declining 5% to $35.9 billion from $37.8 billion in last year's third quarter. Revenues were impacted by lower equipment sales and reduced GE Capital assets, the multinational conglomerate said. GE Capital Services' revenues fell 2% versus last year to $12.5 billion. Industrial sales were $23.6 billion, down 6% from the third quarter of 2009.

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The Fairfield, Conn.-based company said it expects fourth-quarter 2010 GE Industrial revenues to grow sequentially from third quarter and to be about flat with the year-ago period.

"For the first time in eight quarters, we saw growth in both equipment and service orders," Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said. "Equipment orders increased 9%, including 33% growth in Technology Infrastructure. We had strong global demand," he added, with health care orders in China and India improving by more than 20%. "Service-orders growth reflects increased installed-base utilization," Immelt said. "Overall backlog remained flat at $172 billion."

"Cash generated from Industrial operating activities totaled $3.8 billion in the quarter and we are on track for $14-$15 billion this year, the high end of our plan," Immelt said. "At quarter-end, GE had $78 billion of consolidated cash and equivalents."

Energy Infrastructure managed flat operating profit on 14% lower revenues. Technology infrastructure earnings declined 10% with Aviation profits declining 3%, but with health care profit improving 14%, driven by improved global demand. Revenues at NBC Universal were flat at $4.1 billion with operating profit down 15%. And the 500% segment profit improvement at GE Capital -- $871 million compared to $141 million last year -- more than offset earnings declines at other segments.

"Effective capital allocation will benefit GE investors as we go forward," Immelt said, listing all the recent acquisitions and dividend increase. "Third-quarter 2010 results should give investors confidence that a renewed GE should grow earnings and dividends in 2011 and beyond." For now, investors seem skeptical, pushing the stock down 2.4% in premarket trading on the mixed results.