Channel NewsAsia

GE profits up as most industrial segments improve

General Electric on Friday reported higher second-quarter earnings following gains in most industrial segments as it targets late July for a stock listing of its North American retail finance arm.

NEW YORK: General Electric on Friday reported higher second-quarter earnings following gains in most industrial segments as it targets late July for a stock listing of its North American retail finance arm.

Net earnings for GE, considered a proxy for US industrials, came in at $3.5 billion, up 13.2 per cent from the year-ago period.

GE notched higher profits in six of its seven industrial segments, including the two largest areas, power and water, and aviation.

The conglomerate said it expects to raise $3.1 billion in the initial public offering of its North American retail finance arm, Synchrony Financial.

GE will offer 15 per cent of the unit in the sale to public markets, a first step in a plan to exit the business in late 2015.

GE chief executive Jeff Immelt aims for three-fourths of GE's earnings to come from industrial segments by 2016, with the rest coming from finance.

Lending profits previously accounted for as much as 45 per cent of earnings.

The split-off of the retail finance arm is a key part of "boldly repositioning the company for the future," Immelt said.

Another facet of GE's makeover is to successfully integrate Alstom's power and gas business into the US giant after a $16.8 billion GE proposal was accepted in June by the French industrial giant and approved by the French government following a number of concessions.

GE said the Alstom deal is targeted to close in 2015.

Immelt cited strong orders in aviation and said the company's oil and gas business was well-positioned.

Those strong categories offset weakness in mining and US health care, where company officials said hospitals and clinics are cautious on new investments, in part because of the implementation of President Barack Obama's health-care law.

Immelt, in an analyst conference call, said there were "still a few tough markets."

"But the economic trend is positive."

Credit Suisse said in a note that GE's profit margin growth slowed in the second quarter to 20 basis points from 50 basis points in the previous quarter.

Immelt said the company achieved 30 basis points growth for the first half of 2014, calling the results "a good quarter in a generally improving environment."

GE's second-quarter results translated into operating earnings per share of 39 cents, meeting analyst expectations.

Revenues rose 3.3 per cent to $36.23 billion, just under the $36.30 billion forecast by analysts.

GE shares dropped 1.0 per cent to $26.34 in late-morning trade.

Tweet photos, videos and updates on this story to  @channelnewsasia