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GE Energy Strength: How To Play It

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- General Electric (GE)'s energy infrastructure unit was stronger than many analysts expected in the first quarter, suggesting several stocks that play in the same space may be worth a look.

Energy infrastructure turned in revenues of $8.66 billion, better than four of six analyst estimates I reviewed, and also better than the average of their estimates, which was $8.59 billion.

GE's energy infrastructure business is massive, including everything from oil and gas and coal to wind, water. GE said electricity demand was still weak in developed markets, though it showed signs of improvement.

Competitors include SPX Corp. (SPW), ABB Ltd (ABB) and, Alstom SA (ALO), Siemens AG (SI), Vestas and Areva (CEI).

Among these, only Vestas and Alstom were up in early trading Friday. Vestas, a maker of wind turbines, may not be the best way to play the GE results, as GE wind orders of $1.2 billion were down 28% versus the first quarter of last year. Alstom, a more broadly diversified power generation company that also focuses on rail transport, should receive many of the same benefits seen by GE's businesses.

The most interesting play, however, may be Areva, a French company whose shares were down 1.7% in early trading Friday. Areva has a big nuclear power focus, but also has several other businesses including hydrogen power, where GE showed strength in the quarter.

Oil and gas was another strong performer for GE, with $2 billion worth of orders up 8% versus a year ago. That suggests Schlumberger (SLB), which was down Friday morning, merits checking out.

-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.

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