GE Beats Estimates, Revenue Falls (Update 2)

  • First-quarter operating earnings of $4.1 billion, or 39 cents a share, rising 14% year over year
  • Earnings beat consensus estimate of 35 cents
  • Revenue of $35 billion beats the consensus estimate of $34.513 billion
  • Industrial revenue down 6% year over year, Power & Water down 26%
  • Small gains from sale of NBC Universal to Comcast, but cash hoard grows to $90 billion from $77 billion at end of 2012
  • GE Capital pays $447 million Q1 dividend to parent company

Updated from 10.57 a.m. ET with market close information, updated total return and price ratios and comment from BernsteinResearch analyst Steven Winoker and comment from JPMorgan Chase analyst C. Stephen Tusa.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- General Electric ( GE) on Friday reported a 6% year-over-year decline in first-quarter industrial revenue, with Power & Water revenue down 26%.

The Fairfield, Conn., industrial and financial giant reported first-quarter operating earnings of $4.059 billion, or 39 cents a share, compared to $4.666 billion, or 44 cents a share, in the fourth quarter, and $3.567 billion, or 34 cents a share, during the first quarter of 2012.

The first-quarter operating profit beat the consensus estimate of 35 cents, among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.

First-quarter consolidated revenue from continuing operations totaled $35.010 billion, coming in ahead of the consensus estimate of $34.513 billion. Total revenue declined from $39.327 billion the previous quarter and from $35.080 billion a year earlier.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt said "equipment orders were strong in the quarter, growing 10%, with Oil & Gas orders up 24%, and Aviation up 47%," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. "In growth markets, equipment and service orders grew 17%. We ended the quarter with our biggest backlog in history."

The company said the gain from the sale of its remaining stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast ( CCV) was small, at "$0.04 per share above the cost of Industrial restructuring and other charges." But the NBCUniversal sale for $18.1 billion added significantly to the company's cash and equivalents, which totaled $90 billion as of March 31, increasing from $77 billion at the end of 2012.

GE continues to make moves to grow its energy business and increase its percentage of revenue from industrial operations. The company on April 8 agreed to purchase oil drilling equipment manufacturer Lufkin Industries ( LUFK) for $3.3 billion in cash.

Industrial Revenue Decline

Total industrial revenue was down 6% year-over-year, to $34.209 billion in the first quarter. Immelt said, "Power & Water markets were worse than we expected. While we anticipated significantly fewer wind and gas turbine shipments, we saw additional pressure in European Power & Water services. This weakness also had a negative impact on margins."

The CEO went on to say that the company "always anticipated that the first half of 2013 would be our toughest comparison; we expect Power & Water to improve during the year and be positive in the second half."

For GE's Power & Water segment, first-quarter revenue totaled $4.825 billion, declining from $7.652 in the fourth quarter, and $6.551 in the first quarter of 2012. First-quarter profit for the segment was $719 million, declining from $1.747 billion the previous quarter, and $1.188 a year earlier.

GE's For Oil & Gas and Power & Water segments were separately broken out from Energy Infrastructure in December.

First-quarter Oil & Gas revenue totaled $3.399 billion, declining from $4.548 billion in the fourth quarter, but increasing from $3.406 in the first quarter of 2012 Profit for the Oil & Gas segment was $325 million during the first quarter, down from $649 million during the previous quarter and $340 million a year earlier.

Energy Management fourth-quarter revenue totaled $1.748 billion, declining from $1.934 billion in the fourth quarter, but increasing slightly from $1.722 billion in the first quarter of 2012. First-quarter profit for Energy Management was $15 million, declining from $64 million the previous quarter, and $21 million a year earlier.

Aviation segment revenue for the first quarter was $5.074 billion, compared to $5.467 billion the previous quarter, and $4.891 billion a year earlier. First-quarter segment profit was $936 million, compared to $1.039 billion in the fourth quarter, and $862 million in the first quarter of 2012.

First-quarter Healthcare revenue totaled $4.289 billion, declining from $5.183 billion the previous quarter, and $4.300 billion a year earlier. Segment profit was $595 million in the first quarter, compared to $1.021 billion in the fourth quarter, and $585 million in the first quarter of 2012.

GE Capital

GE Capital's first-quarter revenue totaled $11.535 billion, declining from $11.770 billion the previous quarter, but increasing from $11.442 a year earlier. First-quarter profit for the finance arm was $1.927 billion, increasing from $1.808 billion in the fourth quarter, and $1.792 billion in the first quarter of 2012.

Following the $447 million dividend payment to the parent company, GE Capital's Tier 1 common equity ratio was 11.1% as of March 31, increasing from 10.2% at the end of 2012. GE Capital paid dividends totaling $6.4 billion to the parent company during 2012.

Investors were less than thrilled with the company's results, sending GE's shares down over 4% to close at $21.75.

JPMorgan Chase analyst C. Stephen Tusa in a note to clients called the first quarter results "an across the board operating miss," because the results included about $1.5 billion in gains from the NBCUniversal sale.

"Industrial segment revenues of -6% y/y were 400bps below our estimates," Tusa wrote, adding that industrial margins were "weak, even in the context of revenues, down 70bps y/y, nearly 100bps below our estimates."

When discussing prospects for GE's stock, Tusa wrote "We see little that is redeeming about this quarter. Yes, orders were good, and yes, the margin guidance and framework were reaffirmed, but at some point all of this needs to fall to the bottom line on earnings day, and while we were not expecting much this quarter, this was weaker than even our low scenario."

Tusa rates General Electric "Overweight," with a $24 price target.

BernsteinResearch analyst Steven Winoker said in a note that "all segments except Transportation missed our revenue and profit estimates," but on a more positive note said "Industrial growth markets revenues were up double digit in five of nine growth markets, including China."

Delving further into improved order volume, "infrastructure orders were up 3% (and up 6% ex-FX and Wind) at $23.8B, compared to up 2% in 4Q12 and down 5% in 3Q12," Winoker wrote.

"Infrastructure order pricing improved 60bp for the quarter, and the book-to-bill ratio was 1.3 in the quarter," Winoker wrote, adding that "Equipment and service orders in growth markets were up 17% in the quarter."

Winoker rates General Electric "market perform."

Parent and Stock

GE in February increased its common share buyback authorization to $35 billion from $25 billion. The company repurchased $1.9 worth of shares during the first quarter. Immelt has previously said the company's 2013 share repurchases would total about $10 billion.

General Electric's shares have returned 4% year-to-date, following a 21% return during 2012.

Based on a quarterly payout of 19 cents, the shares have a dividend yield of 3.49%.

The shares trade for 13.0 times the consensus 2014 EPS estimate of $1.67. The consensus 2013 EPS estimate is $1.67.

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.

Philip W. van Doorn is a member of TheStreet's banking and finance team, commenting on industry and regulatory trends. He previously served as the senior analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings, responsible for assigning financial strength ratings to banks and savings and loan institutions. Mr. van Doorn previously served as a loan operations officer at Riverside National Bank in Fort Pierce, Fla., and as a credit analyst at the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, where he monitored banks in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico. Mr. van Doorn has additional experience in the mutual fund and computer software industries. He holds a bachelor of science in business administration from Long Island University.

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