GE meets earnings forecast
Diversified conglomerate reports improved net income of 49 cents a share in third quarter; CEO Immelt anticipates 'great' global growth.

NEW YORK ( -- General Electric reported improved earnings that once again met Wall Street forecasts.

The diversified conglomerate, the No. 2 company in the world in market value, earned $5.1 billion, or 49 cents a share, from continuing operations in the period, up from $4.6 billion, or 43 cents, in the year-earlier period.

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That was in line with the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by earnings tracker First Call. It marks the sixth straight quarter that GE has hit the First Call forecast on the head, after two previous quarters when it beat by a penny.

The company's revenue rose 12 percent to $40.9 billion.

The company also narrowed its full-year earnings guidance to $1.97 to $1.99, from its earlier target of $1.94 to $2.02. Both ranges include the current consensus forecast of $1.98.

General Electric Co. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said Friday said the company sees a "solid" economy that includes strong spending by U.S. consumers.

"The markets for our products and services still remain very strong. The economy is solid. It's really being fueled by tremendous global infrastructure spend," Immelt told analysts on conference call, according to Reuters.

"We're seeing great growth around the world and the capital markets and liquidity is still very favorable, and we're still seeing strength with the U.S. consumer," he added. "Everybody's dealing with more inflation and interest rate increases, but we've been able to, by and large, factor that into our business model."

Shares of GE (Charts) were narrowly lower in early trading in Frankfurt soon after the earnings report.

GE, a member of the Dow Jones industrial average, is seen as a bellwether for the economy as it businesses range from finance to manufacturing of jet engines and power turbines, and from a television and movie studio to consumer appliances and high-tech medical equipment.

The company posted revenue gains in each of its segments, although NBC Universal, its television and movie studio unit, saw a 10 percent drop in segment profits. Commercial finance saw a 6 percent gain in profits, all the other units saw double-digit percentage gains in earnings.

GE is the second Dow component to report results so far for the third quarter. Aluminum maker Alcoa (Charts) posted improved results that fell short of forecasts, although McDonald's (Charts), another Dow component, raised its guidance for third-quarter earnings above forecasts Thursday.

The GE news comes near the start of an earnings season that is expect to produce solid gains in corporate profits. It also comes at the Dow is close to the topping the 12,000 mark for the first time.

--from staff and wire reports

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