General Electric

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forecast flat earnings for its GE Capital Services (GECS) unit in 2010 as losses and impairments peak, though it sees continued weakness in its real estate unit.

GE executives made the comments Tuesday afternoon in a webcast to provide details on GECS, the fourth straight quarter in which GE has held such a call in an attempt to address investor concerns.

In a slide presentation accompanying the webcast, the company said GE Capital earnings totaled $2 billion year-to-date through the third quarter, and that it expects earnings to begin to improve in fiscal 2011.

GE executives made several bearish comments about the real estate market, but struck a positive tone overall, arguing they are managing better through the downturn than many other real estate owners and operators.

Goldman Sachs analyst Terry Darling asked if GE still stood by its projections for unrealized commercial real estate losses of $5 billion to $7 billion, noting that GE gets asked about this on every call with analysts and that the "bearish case is still dramatically higher than that level."

GE's real estate head Ron Pressman said GE executives stood by their view, noting that 2010-11 will be "challenging years," and that a real estate market rebound "needs employment growth."

GE executives touted that reduced funding costs are improving margins, saying they are benefiting from reduced competition as other lenders have cut back or gone out of business. In a slide presentation, GE cited


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as among its top competitors in various business lines.

GE's stock, down more than 2% just ahead the call, barely moved during the more than hour and a half presentation, finishing the day at $15.72, down 2.24%.


Written by Dan Freed in New York