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General Electric Posts Surprise Q3 Profit, Sees Improving Industrial Cash Flow

General Electric CEO Larry Culp says industrial free cash flow will rise to 'at least $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter,' and continue to be 'positive in 2021.'

General Electric (GE)  posted a surprise third-quarter profit Wednesday, while forecasting solid industrial free cash flows for the final months of the year, sending shares higher in premarket trading.

General Electric said its adjusted profit for the quarter was pegged at 6 cents per share, down from 15 cents per share over the same period last year and well ahead the Wall Street consensus forecast of a 4 cents per share loss. Group revenues, GE said, fell 17.1% to $19.4 billion, a figure that topped analysts' estimates of an $18.7 billion tally.

Industrial organic sales were down 12%, GE said, while organic orders slumped 28%. Industrial free cash flow for the third quarter was tabbed at $513 million.

GE also said it expects its industrial free cash flow to rise to $2.5 billion over the final three months of the year, and remain positive in 2021, a key delivery target for CEO Larry Culp as he continues the uneven turnaround for the industrial group.

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“I am proud of the GE team’s work in the third quarter to build momentum while continuing to protect the safety of our employees, serve our customers and communities, and preserve GE’s strengths," Culp said. "We are improving our profit and cash performance with organic margin expansion in every segment except Aviation, though orders more broadly remain under pressure."  

"We are managing through a still-difficult environment with better operational execution across our businesses, and we are on track with our cost and cash actions. While our work continues, GE’s transformation is accelerating, and we expect Industrial free cash flow to be at least $2.5 billion in the fourth quarter and positive in 2021," he added  "We remain focused on unlocking upside potential for the long term.”  

General Electric shares were marked 8% higher in early trading immediately following the earnings release to change hands at $7.67 each.