General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) has delivered on its third-quarter earnings. The conglomerate reported operating earnings per share of $0.38, up 6% from a year ago. Revenue was $36.2 billion for the quarter, up 1% from the third quarter of 2014. Thomson Reuters had consensus estimates of $0.37 in earnings per share and $36.79 billion in revenue. The market is giving GE a pass on the slightly light revenues.
One issue helping the reaction is that GE now expects industrial organic revenue growth for the year to be at the higher end of the 4% to 7% range. GE also went on to say that the company is on track to meet its goal of $1 billion or more in structural cost-out for the year, with $674 million of cost-out through the third quarter.
GE’s industrial segment profit was up 9% and the industrial segment organic revenues rose by 4%. GE said that its growth market orders were up 34%, while U.S. orders were up 25%. The company generated $3.8 billion in cash during the third quarter.
GE’s backlog of equipment and services was a record $250 billion, which is up $21 billion over a year ago. New technologies drove a 31% increase in equipment orders. Services orders rose by 10% in the quarter. GE even sees its new GE Predictivity solutions revenues exceeding $1 billion in 2014.
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GE ended the third quarter with $90 billion of consolidated cash and cash equivalents. The company has returned $8.4 billion to shareholders in 2014, via $6.6 billion in paid dividends and $1.8 billion in stock buybacks.
GE had a very unusual third quarter. The company completed the IPO of its North American retail finance business of Synchrony Financial. GE also agreed to sell its Appliances business to Electrolux for $3.3 billion. The company is still working through approvals for its acquisition of Alstom’s power and grid businesses, which is expected to close in 2015 — helping it in its goal of achieving 75% of its earnings from its industrial businesses by 2016.
GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said:
GE performed well in the quarter, with industrial segment profit growth of 9% and significant margin expansion. The environment is volatile, but infrastructure growth opportunities exist, and GE is executing well. This is reflected in healthy order growth and margin expansion. During the quarter we continued to execute on our portfolio strategy, including the successful IPO of Synchrony Financial and announcing the sale of our Appliances business.
24/7 Wall St. would remind readers that GE’s earnings are about to become much more difficult for analysts to accurately judge. The disposition of finance and appliances will likely create a rift in the expectations until analysts get used to seeing the new GE’s reporting in 2015.
GE shares eked out a small gain of three cents to $24.25 on Thursday, and shares were indicated up 1.4% at $24.59 in the early bird indications on Friday morning. GE’s 52-week range is $23.69 to $28.09, and its consensus price target is $29.18.
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