GE Shows Industry Is All That Matters: Today's Outrage

If you are still not convinced that General Electric needs to keep narrowing its focus down to its core industrial activities, then you must not have read GE's fourth-quarter earnings report
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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (

TheStreet

) --If you are still not convinced that

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

needs to keep narrowing its focus down to its core industrial activities, then you must not have read

GE's fourth-quarter earnings report.

Profit in the quarter sank by 19% mainly because of the finance business and NBC Universal, which GE is all but exiting with its recent agreement to sell control of the media business to

Comcast

(CMCSA) - Get Report

.

The decline in profit still beat expectations, led by a 278% jump in earnings for the Consumer & Industrial business and growth of 9% for the Energy Infrastructure business (Those gains were totally eroded by the 67% drop at Capital Finance and 30% decline at NBC Universal).

GE said every segment except for commercial real estate was profitable.

Can someone remind me why GE is in commercial real estate?

Turbines for power plants, wind energy systems, MRI machines, aircraft engines - that's the stuff GE is made of.

And that's where the big growth is. GE said infrastructure orders were up $3.7 billion in the quarter to $22.1 billion and that

industrial

margins improved to 17.7% in the fourth quarter with cash flow from

industrial

operations reaching $16.6 billion for the full year.

While there is still some recessionary weakness in jet engines and train locomotives, that's a boom waiting to happen when hesitant buyers regain the confidence to act on their pent up demand.

For me, this affirms the wisdom of winding down the relationship with NBC and suggests that GE should heed the advice of those calling for it to exit the finance business.

GE is big enough without those pieces and I'm sure the company can find something more useful to do with its cash than using it to back commercial real estate loans and consumer credit card debt.

Restoring the dividend might be an idea.

--Written by Glenn Hall in New York.

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