GE reports sales growth, flat earnings

Revenue for CEO Jeffrey Immelt's company tops projections, with profit matching forecast.

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By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- General Electric Co. beat its own sales estimates and matched earnings projections for the second quarter Friday.

GE said that revenue from continuing operations grew 11% in the second quarter to $46.9 billion. The company also said that earnings from continuing operations slipped 4% to $5.4 billion, from $5.6 billion in the year-earlier quarter. The company said that earnings from continuing operations were 54 cents per share, unchanged from last year.

GE (GE, Fortune 500), a conglomerate based in Fairfield, Conn., had projected second-quarter revenue of $45 billion and continuing earnings of $5.3 billion to $5.5 billion, or 53 cents to 55 cents per share.

The company said its net earnings, which includes the impact from discontinued operations, were $5.1 billion, or 51 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2008. That was down from $5.4 billion, or 52 cents per share, in the same period of 2007.

The earnings report followed an earlier announcement from its consumer financial services unit, GE Money, that it had agreed to sell its Japanese consumer finance business to Shinshei Bank for $5.4 billion.

"This transaction would allow us to re-deploy our resources to faster growth and higher return opportunities," said GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt, referring to the GE Money deal in a Friday press release.

Immelt said the GE Money portion of the conglomerate's business beat expectations. GE Money increased revenue by 6% in the second quarter to $6.6 billion, while profit dropped by 9% to $1.1 billion, the company said.

On Thursday, GE said it would spin off its entire consumer and industrial businesses, including appliances and iconic product lines such as light bulbs. The unit has sales of $13.3 billion and includes 50,000 of the company's 300,000 employees.

In reference to the consumer and industrial business, Immelt said on Friday that "we are now considering a spin-off to our shareholders as the best way to maximize value."

The massive conglomerate has struggled to win back investor confidence, with a 27% plunge in stock so far this year, compared to an overall decline of 15% on the S&P 500.  To top of page

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