General Electric's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

General Electric (GE)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 20, 2012 8:30 am ET

Executives

Trevor A. Schauenberg - Vice President of Corporate Investor Communications

Jeffrey R. Immelt - Executive Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Member of Public Responsibilities Committee

Keith S. Sherin - Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Scott R. Davis - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Charles Stephen Tusa - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division

Jeffrey T. Sprague - Vertical Research Partners Inc.

Steven E. Winoker - Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., LLC., Research Division

Julian Mitchell - Crédit Suisse AG, Research Division

Nigel Coe - Morgan Stanley, Research Division

Terry Darling - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Christopher Glynn - Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Research Division

Deane M. Dray - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Shannon O'Callaghan - Nomura Securities Co. Ltd., Research Division

Jason Feldman - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Brian K. Langenberg - Langenberg & Company, LLC

Presentation

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the General Electric First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] My name is Chanel, and I'll be your conference coordinator today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. I would now like to turn the program over to your host for today's conference, Trevor Schauenberg, Vice President of Investor Communications. Please proceed.

Trevor A. Schauenberg

Thank you, Chanel. Good morning, and welcome, everyone. We're pleased to host today's first quarter 2012 earnings webcast.

Regarding the materials for the webcast, we issued a press release earlier this morning, and the presentation slides are available via the webcast. Slides are available for download and printing on our website at www.ge.com/investor.

As always, elements of the presentation are forward-looking and are based on our best view of the world and our businesses as we see them today. Those elements can change as the world changes. Please interpret them in that light.

For today's webcast, we have our Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt; and our Vice Chairman and CFO, Keith Sherin.

Now I'd like to turn it over to our Chairman and CEO, Jeff Immelt.

Jeffrey R. Immelt

Great, Trevor. Good morning, everybody. Thanks. This year, we outlined 2 important catalysts for GE: double-digit earnings growth in Industrial; and a dividend from GE Capital pending Fed review.

In the first quarter, our Industrial business has achieved a 10% earnings growth, and GE Capital is exceeding our expectations, so we really had a good quarter. Externally, global markets are improving but volatility remains. Infrastructure demand is generally healthy and the U.S. is better. We're watching Europe with caution. We had the strongest Industrial growth performance since the crisis: 20% orders growth, 11% organic revenue growth and 16% expansion in growth markets. GE Capital grew by 27% excluding the impact of the Garanti gain.

Real Estate turned positive in the quarter, which is a positive sign for the year, and we ended the quarter with lots of cash and strong cash flow. Our Tier 1 common ratio is 10.4%, a very healthy level. And we remain on track to hit our margin target for the year. So everything we saw in the first quarter supports double-digit earnings growth.

Orders were robust off a very high base. Orders growth was broad-based. Equipment was up 29%, Service was up 11%, emerging markets grew by 24% and organic orders growth was up 14%. We're benefiting from several macro themes: global infrastructure investment, health care access, gas conversion and favorable transportation and energy markets.

Over the last 2 years, we redeployed capital from NBC to Oil & Gas. This is paying off with a 64% growth in Oil & Gas orders.

Orders pricing was positive, which is a great sign for the future. This is the highest first quarter orders in history. It feels like we're outpacing the market gaining share, and backlog ended at $201 billion, another record.

As I said, organic revenue growth was up 11% in the quarter, very strong. We had 4 or 5 businesses in 6 of 9 growth regions with 10%-plus organic growth. China grew by 18%, on track with our expectations. Service growth was 11%, which is up 8% organically, and we're doing well in the marketplace.

Aviation is winning a lot of campaigns. The GEnx is doing well. The LEAP-X, with applications on the A320neo, 737 Max and C919, is also doing great. The Qantas win is big for our Aviation business.

We're launching 71 new products in Healthcare versus 50 last year.

Our Energy product line is strong, supporting 39% orders growth. We're launching new products in our acquisition, which on balance, are outperforming their plans.

Appliances is beginning to launch its Mission 1 products in 2Q with a new water heater and refrigerator. Our investments in growth are really paying off.

We've always expected margins to ramp during the year. Healthcare and Transportation have already begun to turn. In the first quarter of '12, we had a negative impact of energy backlog pricing, acquisitions and wind volume that moved from the second quarter to the first quarter. However, we see improvements in value gap acquisitions and easing R&D spending as the year progresses. And we will continue to drive productivity in restructuring programs, particularly in Europe.

Over the past 5 years, we've seen as much as a 200 basis point margin improvement from the first quarter to the total year. So we see 50 basis points improvement as an important commitment for 2012 and 2013.

Cash and liquidity remain very strong. Our CFOA grew by 22% in the quarter, behind improved earnings and working capital performance. We ended the quarter with $84 billion of cash on the balance sheet. We're managing this CFOA growth despite having stronger equipment shipments and we expect CFOA to be strong for the year.

Also on GE Capital, GE Capital had a very good quarter. Our balance sheet is strong. We have a 10.4% Tier 1 common ratio of 50 basis points from the fourth quarter '11, and our nonearnings are down $300 million. Our liquidity is safe and sound. Our commercial paper coverage is 2.5x, and we have $76 billion of cash on the GE Capital balance sheet.

We're on track for our ENI goals. We should hit our $425 billion ENI target for 2012. We're reducing red assets like the Irish mortgages. And Commercial Real Estate profitability in the quarter is really quite significant.

Finally, we're able to originate profitable new business. We feel great about expanding our net interest margins. We're originating new business in excess of a 3% return on investment, and our ongoing net income growing by 27% is a good sign. The business is executing well.

Now over to Keith for an update on financials.

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