General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings will likely be at the low end of its expected range and that it will probably record a charge, partly for restructuring, of $1 billion to $1.4 billion for the period.

GE had previously estimated earnings at 50 cents to 65 cents a share for the quarter and now believes it will earn 50 cents to 52 cents. On average, analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters are looking for 51 cents.

The announcement came as the company said it plans to support its GE Capital unit by continuing to diversify funding, remixing the financial-services businesses and arranging its portfolio for future growth.

"GE Capital is an invaluable part of GE's portfolio, and we are fully committed to financial services," Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin said in a statement. "We have averaged 15% earnings growth over the last 20 years in these businesses. We are operating in an extremely difficult environment, but we are outperforming our peers and we have strong franchises to build upon for long-term growth."

As part of the plan, GE Capital will lower its leverage ratio, targeting 6:1 for next year, and cut its commercial paper balance to $50 billion. "We are also reorganizing the business to reduce costs and allocate capital more efficiently," Sherin said in prepared remarks.

GE Vice Chairman and GE Capital CEO and President Michael Neal said, "We have established a framework for GE Capital to earn approximately $5 billion in 2009. From there, we believe the business is positioned to sustain solid, 10% earnings growth in the future."

GE also said it expects to maintain a $1.24-a-share dividend in 2009.

This article was written by a staff member of