GE narrows real estate losses in 4Q
In another possible sign of the ice beginning to thaw in the market, General Electric Co. (GE) narrowed its real estate losses in the fourth quarter. Earlier Friday, the global conglomerate reported income of $4.54 billion, or 42 cents a share, including discontinued operations, up 51% from about $3 billion, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier. Fourth-quarter revenue rose to $41.38 billion from $41.05 billion in 2009. The company, which is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, said fourth-quarter income at its GE Capital unit rose to about $1.06 billion from $99 million a year ago. GE Capital, which includes the company's finance operations, benefited from lower loan delinquencies during the quarter. Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt called the unit's performance "encouraging." Losses in the unit's real estate division narrowed by 31% during the quarter to $409 million from $593 million a year earlier. For the full year, GE Capital earned $3.27 billion, more than double the $1.46 billion for 2009. Losses in the real estate division widened to $1.74 billion for the year ended Dec. 31 from $1.54 billion for 2009. "GE exits 2010 with significant momentum," Immelt said. "We expect that GE earnings growth will continue in 2011 and 2012. We have simplified the portfolio and dramatically reduced risk. We have invested in organic growth with global partnerships, a 21% increase in R&D and a broad array of new products. We are executing a balanced and disciplined capital-allocation plan with dividend increases, acquisitions and share repurchases." Write to Jason Philyaw.