Updated from 1:07 p.m. EDT

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

topped Wall Street estimates by a penny Thursday as demand for its energy generators and product servicing grew.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based corporation posted earnings of $3.378 billion, up 20% from $2.820 billion in the second quarter last year. Earnings per share for the second quarter increased 21% to 34 cents from last year's 28 cents. Wall Street analysts' consensus forecast was 33 cents a share, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial

.

Revenue for the quarter rose to $32.9 billion, 20% higher than $27.4 billion in the same quarter last year.

During the quarter, GE purchased $523 million of its stock to reach $16.5 billion, or 934 million shares, toward the $22 billion goal of its stock repurchase program, begun December 1994.

GE finished down 1 3/8, or 2.6%, at 52 3/8.

GE stocks rallied yesterday on news that both GE and

Yasuda Mutual Life,

, New York brokerage firm PaineWebber's two largest shareholders, had agreed to

sell their combined 30% stake to Swiss investment bank

UBS Warburg

in its bid to acquire PaineWebber. GE expects a $2.3 billion windfall from the transaction.

GE's variety of businesses, which range from

GE Appliances

and its new electronic washers to

NBC

and the

Tonight Show

with Jay Leno, helped it to report higher earnings, said

J.J.B. Hilliard W.L. Lyons

analyst Steve O'Neil. O'Neil has a long-term buy rating on GE, and his firm has done no underwriting for GE.

At

GE Power Systems

, anticipated summertime swelter drove orders for power generators up 80%, and shipments of heavy-duty gas turbines more than doubled to 60. Demand for another type of gas turbine tripled, and GE Power Systems completed more installations and preventative maintenance orders during the quarter than it did any prior quarter.

Power Systems also secured long-term service agreements worth $913 million, bringing the total value of multiyear contracts to $11 billion.

GE Aircraft Engines

sold the majority of airline jet engines worldwide, and orders for a handful of

GE Medical's

products and services grew by double digits.

Meanwhile, variety spurred second-quarter earnings at

GE Capital Services,

whose segments in specialized financing, consumer services and midmarket financing each showed double-digit increases.

Revenue for GE's industrial businesses likewise grew by double-digits, led by Power Systems, Medical, Aircraft Engines and NBC.

GE entered a slew of strategic alliances during the quarter. It will underwrite and distribute long-term care insurance with

Citigroup,

offer full-service and online banking with

CompuBank,

and with

Cisco

form

GE Cisco Industrial Networks

to design and build network infrastructures for manufacturing plants, cited in a statement as a potential $3 billion market by the year 2003.