GE revenue lower than expected; expects a volatile year ahead

FAIRFIELD, Conn. ― General Electric Co’s. fourth-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street expectations because of slower-than-expected growth in Europe, sending its shares down 2.5 percent in premarket trading.

The largest U.S. conglomerate expects a volatile year but it plans to build up its emerging-market presence and restructure its European operations.

Its profit came in 1 cent per share above Wall Street’s forecasts.

“We’re concerned about the revenue miss,” said Oliver Pursche, president of Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New York. “That’s really what we’re focused on this earnings season. We’re not so concerned about being a penny above or below expectations, because that can be handled with accounting.”

The world’s biggest maker of jet engines and electric turbines said net income from continuing operations rose 0.6 percent to $3.93 billion, or 37 cents per share, compared with $3.90 billion, or 36 cents per share, a year ago.

Factoring out one-time items, profit came to 39 cents per share, above the 38 cents analysts had forecast, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue came to $37.97 billion, down from $41.23 billion and below the $40.03 billion analysts had expected. Factoring out the effects of last year’s sale of a majority stake in NBC Universal revenue would have been up 4 percent.

“We expect continued volatility in 2012 and have prepared for it by investing in new products and technology, expanding our growth-market footprint and taking important steps to strengthen risk management,” said CEO Jeff Immelt, in a statement. “We are restructuring our business in Europe to reflect market conditions.”

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