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GE's earnings see rise but revenue disappoints

NEW YORK -- General Electric Co.'s transformation into a more simple industrial company seems to be helping its bottom line.

The top line, though, is lagging slightly.

GE's net income rose 49 percent in the third quarter to US$3.49 billion, or 33 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, GE earned 36 cents per share, in line analysts' expectations and up 13 percent from a year earlier.

Revenue rose US$1 billion, or 3 percent, to US$36.35 billion. But analysts were looking for revenue of US$36.95 billion and GE shares fell 2.8 percent in afternoon trading.

GE, based in Fairfield, Connecticut, has returned to its roots an industrial company. It manufactures such products as jet engines and refrigerators and provides equipment and services to a growing roster of energy companies.

Revenue from GE's industrial division is now more than double that of its financial businesses. During the financial crisis, investors worried that its enormous banking arm, GE Capital, would fail. GE said Friday its efforts to reduce assets in GE Capital, a move applauded by investors, is ahead of schedule.

As a result, GE lowered its revenue forecast. GE Capital's revenue will fall 10 percent this year, instead of 5 percent. Revenue for all of GE is now expected to rise 3 percent for the year — to US$151 billion — instead of 5 percent.

The energy sector has been a big part of GE's industrial push. GE has spent US$11 billion buying companies such as those that help oil and gas companies find and produce fossil fuels, and manufacturers that make engines and turbines to burn those fuels.

It said Friday that its energy investments are performing well and will generate strong growth in the fourth quarter and next year. Energy infrastructure profits rose 13 percent in the third quarter.

These companies are taking advantage of a boom in drilling for oil and natural gas in North America and elsewhere. GE is helping drillers produce and deliver oil from offshore deepwater formations and from onshore shale formations. It's also seeing strong orders for equipment need to liquefy natural gas to transport it around the world. And GE is rolling out new turbines of various sizes to help utilities generate electricity efficiently as they rely more on natural gas.

“You've got to feel great about oil and gas,” said Keith Sherin, GE's chief financial officer.

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