GE's Profits Rose 16% in 2011

Company ended the year with $85 billion in cash.

General Electric on Jan. 20 posted a 16% rise in profit for 2011 but capped the year with a weak final quarter.

GE reported full-year net profit of $13.12 billion compared with $11.34 billion in 2010.

But fourth-quarter profit fell 16% year-on-year, to $3.73 billion, the company.

Net revenues fell 2% to $147.3 billion for the year and 8% for the quarter, to $37.97 billion. Both figures were well below market expectations.

Despite the tough October-December period, GE said its outlook for 2012 remained upbeat after winning record infrastructure orders of $28.6 billion in the fourth quarter.

The sprawling multinational conglomerate, seen as a bellwether of the global economy with businesses including aircraft engines, energy, home appliances and finance, said it ended the year with a backlog of $200 billion, the largest in its history.

"GE's portfolio demonstrated strength and resilience, delivering earnings growth for the seventh consecutive quarter while also generating substantial operating cash flow to support investment in our business and dividend growth," CEO Jeff Immelt said.

"We are confident in our 2012 framework to realize double-digit earnings growth in our Industrial and Capital segments," he added.

GE Capital, which had dragged down earnings during the 2008 financial crisis, had a fourth-quarter profit of $1.62 billion, up 58 percent from the same period in 2010. "GE Capital is safe and secure and rebounding sharply. We are restructuring our businesses in Europe to reflect market conditions," Immelt said.

But earnings at GE's flagship energy infrastructure segment were flat in the final quarter, and fell 9% on a full-year basis.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company said it had ended the year with a cash pile of $85 billion. That "strong" cash position, it said, enabled the company to repurchase $5.4 billion of stock during the year, including $3.3 billion for the preferred stock held by tycoon Warren Buffett's investment firm Berkshire Hathaway.

GE said it had bought $7.1 billion in stock since the buyback was restarted in 2010.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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