NEW YORK (
CEO Jeff Immelt said last month that "we feel good about how we are positioned" for 2013, but he was also careful to lower investors' expectations for the fourth quarter.
GE will reports its fourth-quarter results early Friday morning, with a consensus earnings estimate of 43 cents a share, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, increasing from earnings of 36 cents in the second quarter, and 39 cents during the fourth quarter of 2011.
Speaking at the company's analyst meeting on Dec. 17, Immelt said that "when I stood here a year ago, we said organic growth between 5% and 10%; in September, we said 10%. I think we see right now, organic growth at 8% with a slightly tougher macro environment in the fourth quarter," according to a transcript provided by Thomson Reuters. Immelt cheerfully pointed out that GE's lower-than-expected growth rate was still "two or three times than most of our peers, pretty strong organic growth performance."
"We are running the industrial businesses and at a lower cost base with trying to create a cost hedge if you will, when we think about next year," Immelt said, adding that "there is still a lot of macro volatility." When discussing the economic and political uncertainty, the CEO said "we are just prepared, we've got low cost, we have invested back in organic growth and we've got a lot of cash so we are prepared, I think, as the Company looks forward into 2013."
During the third quarter, GE Capital paid the parent company $2.4 billion in dividends, after paying $3.0 billion to the parent during the second quarter. Morgan Stanley analyst Nigel Coe on Sunday estimated that the financial unit would pay GE $1.203 billion in dividends for the fourth quarter. The analyst continues to expect GE Capital to become a "cash machine," saying that the unit's "Basel I Tier-1 Common Equity ratio compares favorably to US Bank peers and assuming maintenance of a 10% CT1 ratio, we see potential for $30bn cash distribution [though] 2015."
A healthy GE Capital is just what investors want to see, as it supports the parent company's return of capital. Coe estimates that General Electric will buy back between $5 billion and $5 billion worth of shares each year through 2015, but sees "further upside."