GE Delivers on Earnings, Still Leaves Argument for Bulls and Bears Alike


General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) has delivered its third-quarter earnings. And it seems like the company has delivered news that will appease some concerns of the bulls but will still give the bears ample ammunition as well. Outside of a preferred stock redemption, GE earnings rose 13% on a normalized basis to $0.36 per share on a 3% gain in revenue to $36.3 billion. Thomson Reuters had estimates of $0.36 EPS and was looking for $36.93 billion in revenue. Currency changes impacted revenue by $1.1 billion on a negative basis, so some of that revenue shortfall may be explained as the currency impact would have been a 3% hit on its total revenues.

While GE reported industrial segment revenues up 10% year-to-date, GE said that it has no change in its outlook and that it is on track to deliver on double-digit earnings growth in 2012.

Energy Infrastructure, Transportation and Home & Business Solutions had double-digit earnings growth. The conglomerate sees double-digit earnings growth for both Industrial and GE Capital segments in 2012.

GE Capital was called as remaining "on target to become a smaller, more focused financial services business with solid earnings." GE Capital's earnings grew by 11% in the quarter and GE Capital Corporation returned a $2.4 billion dividend to the parent company in the quarter. Its Tier 1 common ratio was 10.2%.

Jeff Immelt said:

The overall environment remains challenging, but GE continues to execute on our growth strategy. GE's Industrial segments delivered another quarter of strong organic revenue growth, and we ended the quarter with a robust backlog. As expected, our margins increased 70bps over the prior year period, with margin expansion in all five Industrial segments.

Immelt concluded:

We are focused on delivering our key commitments to investors including balanced double-digit earnings growth, strong organic growth, margin expansion, and returning cash from GE Capital to fund balanced capital allocation for our shareholders. The global economy is uncertain, and we are prepared for a variety of economic outcomes. We will continue to invest to win in our markets, while aggressively managing our overall cost structure.

While today's numbers showed growth, the end result is that the challenges of the economy and forex are weighing on GE's growth. Growing these businesses is not an easy task. We still expect a dividend increase to be announced before year's end, but it currently yields 3% and dividend growth will be in-line with its earnings growth.

Shares closed at $22.81 against a 52-week range of $14.68 to $23.18, and the analyst consensus target from Thomson Reuters was $24.79 before the effects of this report. GE shares are trading down around $22.35 in the early trading indications, and we will update pricing if any major changes come about.

UPDATE 8:00 AM EST: GE shares are now trading around $22.45 but trading volume is thin enough that this does not look like it will be a major day as of now.