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The company said it returned $12.4 billion to shareholders during 2012, through dividends and $5.2 billion in share buybacks. General Electric's shares closed at $21.30 Thursday, up 1.5% year-to-date. The shares returned 21% during 2012, following a 1% return during 2011. The company on Dec. 14 raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to 19 cents, for a yield of 3.57%, based on Thursday's closing price. The shares trade for 12.7 times the consensus 2013 EPS estimate of $1.67. The consensus 2014 EPS estimate is $1.84.
JPMorgan analyst Steven Tusa said in a note before the market open that the quality of General Electric's fourth-quarter earnings "was generally solid with revenues +3% vs JPM (+1% vs Consensus), Industrial margins better (+20bps vs JPM), GE Capital in line (with a 6% tax rate higher than expected) and the net of corporate/tax in line with our model." With Immelt having carefully reduced his guidance for GE's 2012 organic growth in December to 8% from his 10% estimate in September, Tusa said "expectations were as low as they've been for some time," reflected by the relative underperformance of the shares, and that investors were "bracing for sloppy print." "In that context, there is no debate that the details are better than feared." Tusa rates General Electric "Overweight," with a $24 price target. Interested in more on General Electric? See TheStreet Ratings' report card for this stock. -- Written by Philip van Doorn in Jupiter, Fla. >Contact by Email. Follow @PhilipvanDoorn