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Expect Lackluster 'Transitional' Quarter for General Electric

Stocks in this article: GE

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Investors can expect a lackluster second-quarter showing General Electric (GE), leading into what CEO Jeff Immelt expects will be a strong second half of 2013 for industrial orders.

The company will announce its second-quarter results early on Friday, with analysts polled by Thomson Reuters estimating earnings of 35 cents a share, declining from 39 cents in the first quarter and 38 cents during the second quarter of 2012.

Following a messy first quarter, when the company completed the sale of its remaining stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast (CCV), Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck expects "a more normalized" second quarter, with a 1% reduction in revenue year-over-year, driven by sharply lower sales volume in the Power & Water segment, with some offsetting growth in the Oil & Gas and Aviation segments.

Graseck rates GE "equal-weight" and in a report on July 11 estimated the company's industrial margin would be "flattish" at roughly 14.9%, "with a bias to the downside given -2ppts Y/Y P&W erosion that could somewhat threaten the FY13 outlook" of an increase in 70 basis points over the 2012 industrial margin of 15.1%.

GE Capital

During the first quarter, GE Capital paid the parent company $447 million dividend, after paying $6.4 billion in dividends to the parent during 2012. The financial subsidiary had $524 billion in total assets as of March 31. GE Capital is now under Federal Reserve supervision as a systemically important non-bank financial company, and will have its dividend payouts subject to review through the regulators annual stress tests, beginning in March 2014.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt's long-term strategy for GE Capital has been to reduce its asset size and improve its liquidity, thus lowering its risk profile. Excluding non-interest bearing liabilities, cash and equivalents, the finance unit's "ending net investment" (ENI) was $402 billion, declining from $419 billion the previous quarter and well below Immelt's earlier target of $425 billion.

CFO Keith Sherin said during GE's first-quarter earnings call in April that "we have got over $60 billion of non-core assets. We continue to run those off." So investors can expect both total assets and ENI to continue to decline for GE Capital.

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