GE expects double-digit profit growth


HARTFORD, Conn. -- General Electric Co. reaffirmed on Tuesday it expects earnings to increase 15% to 16% in 2006, and announced it expects double-digit earnings growth for 2007.

The Fairfield-based industrial, financial services and media conglomerate said it expects fourth quarter earnings in 2006 to increase 13% to 16%, or 62 to 64 cents per share. It said annual earnings for 2006 would show an increase to a range of $1.97 to $1.99 per share.

The company predicted earnings to increase in 2007 by 10% to 13%, or $2.17 to $2.23 per share. Revenue is projected to rise to $175 billion next year, an 8% increase.

"I think there's even better news ahead," GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said at the company's annual outlook meeting in New York. "What we've tried to build and what we're building is a reliable growth company, not just strong in the short term but well positioned for next five years."

Previously, GE had predicted earnings per share in 2006 of $1.94 to $2.02 this year, up 13% to 17%. Analysts expect earnings of $1.99 per share.

GE shares rose 42 cents, or 1.19%, to close at $35.64 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In a more than one-hour presentation, Immelt said earnings in the infrastructure business, which is GE's largest, will be up 16% in 2006, and up by between 15% and 20% next year.

"Basically, everything here is good," Immelt said. "We're very well globally positioned.

Earnings for the financial services unit will be up between 10% and 15% this year and about the same next year, he said.

GE's "Ecomagination" initiative, which was unveiled last year to boost sales of environmentally friendly technology such as pollution controls and wind power generators, has doubled revenue from $6 billion to $12 billion this year. GE projects it will rise to $14 billion next year.