GE revenue beats expectations, calming nerves

WOONSOCKET, R.I., Fri Apr 19, 2013 — Strong sales to aviation customers helped General Electric Co.’s first-quarter revenue beat Wall Street expectations on Friday, assuaging fears of a miss after a lukewarm report on March U.S. factory activity.

The world’s biggest maker of jet engines and electric turbines said revenue rose slightly to $35 billion, surpassing the $34.51 billion analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“That is a beat on revenue, and that’s important because the Street has been very worried about revenue numbers at industrial firms because the quarter appears to have tailed off in March,” said Jack DeGan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp. in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which owns GE shares.

The Institute for Supply Management said earlier this month that U.S. factory activity grew at the slowest rate in three months in March, suggesting the economy lost some momentum at the end of the first quarter.

While investors and analysts await more information on sales from GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt on an earnings conference call, GE said in a statement that orders from aviation customers jumped 47 percent and orders from energy customers rose 24 percent in the quarter.

GE to buy 2,000 Ford plug-in hybrid vehicles

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Tue Nov 20, 2012 – General Electric Co. will buy 2,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles made by Ford Motor Co. for its corporate fleet, the companies said on Tuesday.

As part of the deal for the Ford C-Max Energi vehicles, the automaker said it would jointly market GE’s alternative fuel infrastructure technology, including charging stations and natural gas fueling stations, to its commercial buyers.

The agreement is Ford’s largest plug-in electrified vehicle fleet sale to date.

GE, the largest U.S. conglomerate, has set a target to convert half of its global fleet to alternative fuel vehicles. The purchase from Ford brings the number of such vehicles in GE’s fleet to more than 5,000, compared with its goal of 25,000.

In May, GE CEO Jeff Immelt said people might be disappointed in the adoption rate of electric vehicles, but his company would continue investing in battery technology to reflect its confidence in them.

Electric vehicles carry an expensive battery and typically cost more than a conventional vehicle of similar size. Sales of such vehicles thus far have been modest and below some initial expectations.

GE and Ford also said they would work with researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology to study GE employee driving and charging habits, with the goal of improving all-electric driving and charging performance.

Study findings will be shared with commercial customers to provide insights and help facilitate deployment of electric vehicles in their own fleets.

The C-Max Energi, which sells for nearly $30,000 after a federal tax credit, went on sale last month. It can drive about 21 miles in all-electric mode before a gas engine kicks in and gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon as rated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

GE, Pickens’ Clean Energy in natural-gas supply deal for trucks

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Tue Nov 13, 2012 – General Electric Co. reached a deal to sell equipment to Clean Energy Fuels Corp., which is building out a series of liquefied natural gas fueling stations for U.S. truckers.

The largest U.S. conglomerate sees liquefied natural gas equipment as becoming a $1 billion market over the next five years, said Mike Hosford, general manager of unconventional resources for GE Oil & Gas.

Clean Energy, which counts T. Boone Pickens as its largest investor, agreed to buy two GE-made MicroLNG plants to provide liquefied natural gas for a network of 70 natural gas fueling stations it is opening at truck stops along U.S. interstate highways this year, the company said in a statement released on Tuesday.

“We currently have some LNG production facilities, but the country is going to need more,” said Andrew Littlefair, CEO of Clean Energy, in a statement released on Tuesday. “These two plants are critical in our next phase (of expansion) and we are going to need more plants over time.”

GE says first to meet 2015 U.S. rail emission rules

FARIFIELD, Conn., Fri Aug 24, 2012 – General Electric Co. on Friday plans to unveil a new generation of railroad locomotive that will meet strict U.S. emission standards set to take effect in 2015.

The new Evolution locomotive keeps the largest U.S. conglomerate a step ahead of rival Caterpillar Inc.’s Electro-Motive Diesel train unit and will allow railroads to meet emission standards without adding another fluid to the list of chemicals needed to maintain trains, GE officials contend.

The locomotive aims to meet a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standard that will require a 76 percent reduction in diesel engines’ emissions of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant associated with asthma, as well as limiting particle emissions, without using the additive urea.

In going without urea, GE is using a different technology than makers of heavy trucks have chosen. Navistar International Corp (NAV.N) last month backed off from its effort to develop a compliant urea-free engine after extensive delays in its efforts to win EPA approval, saying it would begin buying engines made by Cummins Inc (CMI.N) that use urea – the same technology its rivals have adopted.

GE officials said they are confident their locomotive will meet the new emission standards — a critical step to keep the company’s fastest-growing division on track. Through the first six months of 2012, profits at the rail division rose 53 percent to $514 million on a 33 percent rise in sales to $2.84 billion.

“We’ve spent a lot of time with the EPA as we’ve gone through this,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of GE’s Transportation arm, which makes locomotives. “We’re very confident that with our global research center, with the amount of testing we’ve done, that we’ve got a solution that works.”

The company has invested $600 million in the locomotive.

GE finance arm resumes paying quarterly dividend to parent

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Wed May 16, 2012  – General Electric Co.’s finance arm will resume paying a quarterly dividend to the parent company and make a special payout of $4.5 billion, paving the way for the largest U.S. conglomerate to increase its dividends and buybacks.

GE shares rose 3 percent to $18.90 in premarket trading. They closed at $18.40 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

Raising its dividend and buying back shares are top priorities for GE this year as it tries to repay shareholders for the $12 billion in common stock that it sold in October 2008 during the financial crisis.

GE historically received a dividend from its finance arm but halted that practice in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The GE Capital dividend was subject to approval from the Federal Reserve, which became its regulator in 2011.

GE said on Wednesday the board of GE Capital declared a quarterly dividend of $475 million payable to GE in the second quarter. The special dividend will be paid this year.

“With this announcement, GE Capital will return cash to GE beginning this quarter,” GE CEO Jeff Immelt said in a statement.

“This action demonstrates the strength of GE Capital and the significant actions taken to strengthen its liquidity, capital, asset quality and profitability.”

GE profit, revenue top Wall Street forecast; orders up 20 percent

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Fri Apr 20, 2012 – General Electric Co. topped Wall Street’s profit and revenue forecasts for the first quarter, helped by strong demand for energy equipment and railroad locomotives.

The largest U.S. conglomerate said industrial orders had risen 20 percent in the quarter and that selling prices had improved in most of businesses. This should help CEO Jeff Immelt achieve his goal of boosting profit margins by a 0.5 percentage point this year.

“We witnessed broad-based strength in orders across all our infrastructure businesses and in both equipment and services,” Immelt said in a statement.

GE shares rose 0.9 percent to $19.31 in premarket trading.

Investors noted that the company had notched solid organic growth — a measure that factors out the influence of acquisitions or fluctuations in exchange rates.

“Organic revenue growth in the industrial business was great at 11 percent,” said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor Advisory Corp., a Portsmouth, New Hampshire, firm that owns GE shares. “GE has been a disappointment for a long time … (and) is now finally going to get back to where its earnings can compound at a rate better than the S&P for a while.”

As of Thursday’s close, GE shares were up 6.6 percent for the past year, trailing the 10 percent rise of the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index.

Investors said the report was a good sign for the rest of the industrial sector. Fellow blue-chip companies United Technologies Corp., 3M Co. and Caterpillar Inc. are all due to report results next week.

GE “beat on revenues, which they haven’t really been able to do in a long time, and that really bodes well for industrials in particular,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst of Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

General Electric invests in Texas shale gas pipeline operator

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Fri Mar 16, 2012 – General Electric Co. has sunk its teeth further into the energy infrastructure and services business by investing in Howard Energy Partners, a natural gas pipeline operator in the booming Eagle Ford shale fields of south Texas.

GE Energy Financial Services will pay an undisclosed amount for 30.6 percent of Howard, GE said on Thursday. Other investors include Crosstex Energy LP, Quanta Services Inc. and Clear Springs Energy Company LLC, and the deal is expected to close in April.

“The shale boom has created the need for a dramatic build out of oil and gas infrastructure in North America, requiring significant capital,” John Shepherd, a managing director at GE Energy Financial Services, said in a statement.

Howard will use the money to help fund its purchase of the natural gas gathering assets of Meritage Midstream Services in south Texas, GE said.

At the closing of that deal, Howard will own and operate 450 miles (724 km) of pipelines in the state, which can handle more than 175 million cubic feet per day, and the San Antonio, Texas-based company has plans to grow to meet demand.

The so-called “midstream,” referring to infrastructure that moves oil and gas from the wellhead to its buyers, has become a hot market with the growth of North American shale development.

General Electric to hire 5,000 U.S. veterans, investing in plants

WASHINGTON – General Electric Co. plans to hire 5,000 U.S. military veterans over the next five years and to invest $580 million to expand its aviation footprint in the United States this year.

The largest U.S. conglomerate unveiled the moves ahead of a four-day meeting it is convening in Washington starting on Monday to focus on boosting the U.S. economy, which has been slow to recover from a brutal 2007-2009 recession.

“We should have the confidence to act and to restore American competitiveness,” Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, a top adviser on jobs and the economy to President Barack Obama, said in a statement.

The U.S. unemployment rate – seen as the main barrier to a move vibrant recovery – fell to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent in January, helped in part by the manufacturing sector adding about 50,000 workers. Even with that improvement, 23.8 million Americans remain out of work or underemployed, which is keeping the economy a key issue heading into November’s presidential elections.

The world’s largest maker of jet engines plans this year to open three new U.S. aviation plants, in Ellisville, Mississippi; Auburn, Alabama, and Dayton, Ohio. After cutting headcount significantly during the recession – as did its major peers including United Technologies Corp and Caterpillar Inc. – GE has added about 9,000 U.S. workers since 2009, and has already announced plans to hire another 4,500 people.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company, whose operations range from making loans to mid-sized businesses to manufacturing railroad locomotives, plans to discuss these moves at the Washington meeting. Boeing Co. CEO James McNerney and Dow Chemical Co. CEO Andrew Liveris are also scheduled to speak.

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.”

GE unit to pay $70 million over muni bid-rigging cases

WASHINGTON ― General Electric Co. acknowledged that three former traders at a finance unit engaged in bid-rigging of municipal bonds and agreed to pay $70.4 million to resolve probes into the matter.

The agreement was with GE Funding Capital Market Services, a discontinued GE business unit, and concerned actions that occurred between 1999 and 2004. It is one of five that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Justice Department and other state agencies have reached with financial institutions charged with bid-rigging.

GE, the largest U.S. conglomerate, said on Friday that it exited the business in question in April 2010 and that the three employees involved no longer work for it.

The director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, Robert Khuzami, said, “Our in-depth investigations have uncovered pervasive corrupt practices in the municipal securities reinvestment market, and we are requiring financial firms one by one to step up and pay the price for their misconduct.”

GE Funding Capital Market Services acknowledged that some of its traders entered agreements to manipulate the bidding process for municipal investments and related contracts, among other activities, the Justice Department and SEC said.

GE said it was “pleased” to have resolved the matter and that it had already accounted for the settlement costs in prior quarters.

Its shares were up 1 percent at $18.25 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Authorities had previously reached settlements worth more than $650 million with four other companies: Wachovia Bank, J.P. Morgan Securities, UBS Financial Services and Banc of American Securities. Eighteen people including the former GE staffers, have been indicted or pleaded guilty the SEC said.