General Electric (GE) - Get Report squeezed past earnings estimates for the first quarter, as broad-based growth across its businesses fed a record performance.

The company posted earnings of 78 cents per share, or $2.59 billion, a 20% jump over the 65 cents, or $2.16 billion, the company reported in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by

First Call/Thomson Financial

projected earnings of 77 cents per share. Revenue rose 24% to $30 billion from $24.17 billion.

GE

said in March it expected to "moderately exceed" expectations. At the time, the consensus among analysts was for earnings per share of 75 cents.

GE shares declined 5 1/4, or 3.4%, to 151 7/16 in midmorning Tursday trading following the market's downtrend. (GE closed Thursday down 6 3/8, or 4.1%, at 150 3/8.)

"GE businesses turned in a terrific first quarter," said Jack Welch, GE chairman, in a statement. "Our products and services are being well received in unusually robust global markets; the businesses outstanding execution more than offset close to 2% price deflation; and the rapid to transition to e-business is improving every aspect of the company."

Welch added that Fairfield, Conn.-based GE's performance is exceeding its "anticipated long-term growth rate."

GE's main businesses include

GE Capital

, the world's largest nonbank finance company, and

NBC

.

GE also the world's No. 1 manufacturer of aircraft engines, medical diagnostic-imaging machines and turbines for power plants. Other products include locomotives, appliances, lighting, industrial controls and plastics.

GE plans to split its stock 3-for-1 later this month. The company's shares have jumped 35% over the last year.