GE Profit Rises, Helped by Oil, Gas Business
Jan 17 (Reuters) - General Electric Co posted in-line overall quarterly earnings on Friday but disappointed investors by failing to meet its full-year profit margin goal due to delayed wind turbine deliveries and poor energy management results.
Shares in the U.S. conglomerate fell 2.5 percent in morning trading to $26.52, against a broadly flat market. The stock rallied more than 30 percent in 2013, outperforming the market.
GE came up slightly short in its 2013 goal for expanding profit margins for its industrials businesses, which the company is increasingly focusing on as it reduces its exposure to the volatile financial sector.
"This was an important target they had been putting in front of investors for a long time," said Christian Mayes, an analyst at Edward Jones, who has a "hold" rating on GE.
"The transition is continuing to take time and GE is going to really have to hit these targets, and it's disappointing they couldn't quite get it done on the industrial target this year."
GE expanded its operating margin for its industrials businesses by 0.66 of a percentage point, below its full-year target of a 0.7 percentage point improvement.
GE's Chief Financial Officer Jeff Bornstein told Reuters in an interview the margin shortfall was "absolutely negligible, given the size of the company."
"Execution-wise, we like the momentum we have behind us and but for a couple of issues in the quarter, it really wouldn't have been much of a discussion," Bornstein said.
Fourth-quarter profit of 53 cents per share, excluding items, was in line with the average expectation of analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The diversified manufacturer said its quarterly net earnings rose to $4.2 billion, or 41 cents per share, from $4.01 billion, or 38 cents a share, a year earlier.
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