GE (GE) Confounds Its Critics

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As usual, the GE (GE) quarterly report was a massive compilations of numbers on its various divisions and their performance compared to last year.

The only number Wall St. cared about what the one for GE Capital which might have become a sink hole of bad assets and tremendous write-offs, not entirely unlike those experienced by the money center banks.

To the chagrin of GE’s critics, GE Capital made money.

As the conglomerate reported earnings for the first quarter of the year, it said that “Capital Finance earned $1.1 billion in the quarter and remains on track to be profitable for the full year.”

As a whole, GE announced first-quarter 2009 earnings from continuing operations of $2.8 billion, or $.26 per share attributable to common shareowners, down 40% from first quarter 2008. First-quarter 2009 revenues from continuing operations were $38.4 billion, down 9% year-over-year.

The bad news did not turn out to be in financial sector because it have moved elsewhere. GE’s media operation got killed. Revenue dropped 2% to $3.5 billion and segment operating income was down by 45% to $391 million.

GE’s consumer and industrial operations also fell flat. Revenue was down 22% to $2.2 billion and operating income was off 75% to $36 million.

To the relief of almost everyone who owns GE shares, the most important divisions of the company, its large infrastructure operations, had a modest increase in revenue to $18.7 billion and an operating income increase of 13% to $3.1 billion.

In other words, the real heart of GE did fine.

Douglas A. McIntyre