GE Sees Possible Upside in 2010

General Electric gave Wall Street a bullish assessment of the rest of the year on Friday, hinting at possible upside in its prior outlook for flat earnings in 2010.
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Updated with Immelt quote, information on GE Capital.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (

TheStreet

) --

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

gave Wall Street a bullish assessment of the rest of the year on Friday, hinting at possible upside in its prior outlook for flat earnings in 2010, along with further restructuring.

"Our 2010 framework remains achievable with potential for upside," said Jeff Immelt, the company's chairman and CEO, in a press release. "We may evaluate additional restructuring that will improve our earnings power going forward. We will have substantial cash available for allocation and we expect to grow earnings and dividends in 2011 and beyond."

GE hasn't provided specific guidance for 2010, saying rather it expects its performance would be comparable to its profit of $1.03 a share in 2009.

The outlook came as the company reported first-quarter earnings of $1.9 billion, or 17 cents per share, on revenue of $36.6 billion, for the three months ended in March. On a continuing operations basis, the Dow component said it earned $2.3 billion, or 21 cents a share, for the period.

The average estimate of analysts polled by

Thomson Reuters

was for the company to report a profit of 16 cents a share on revenue of $37.1 billion. Headed into this report, GE had topped Wall Street's profit expectations for

four consecutive quarters

.

The latest results compare to earnings of 26 cents a share on revenue of $38.4 billion in the same period a year earlier, and a profit of 28 cents a share on revenue of $41.4 billion in the fourth quarter.

The company said the year-over-year revenue decline of 5% reflected the downsizing of its GE Capital finance unit.

"GE's environment continued to improve in the first quarter of 2010," said Immelt. "We saw encouraging economic signs, including increases in airline passenger miles and freight loadings, declines in receivables delinquencies, and growth in local advertising markets."

Of GE Capital, Immelt said the unit earned $600 million in the quarter, and that losses for the unit "seem to have peaked."

"Commercial real estate continues to be challenging, but the risks are understood and we expect them to be manageable," he said. "We have strengthened the GE Capital franchise and are on track for solid earnings growth."

General Electric shares finished Thursday at $19.50, up 0.8% for the day. Earlier in the session, the stock reached a new 52-week high of $19.69, and it's now up about 30% year-to-date, far outpacing a gain of less than 7% for the

Dow Jones Industrial Average

.

Volume in GE shares was strong on Thursday ahead of the company's report as 101.1 million shares changed hands, roughly 25% above the issue's trailing three-month daily average of 80.2 million.

--

Written by Michael Baron in New York

.