Jan. 18 - General Electric posts strong growth in its order backlog, a positive sign of future sales growth and don't worry about GE's engine business, says one analyst who predicts the woes over Boeing’s 787 jet shouldn’t hurt Boeing’s profits. Fred Katayama reports.
General Electric's bet on boosting its energy business is powering its profit engine. GE's bottom line grew 7-1/2 percent in the fourth quarter despite the uncertainty plaguing the global economy. Profits rose 14 percent in its unit that makes oil and gas equipment. What's more, profits grew at every division. J.P. Morgan analyst Steve Tusa: SOUNDBITE: STEPHEN TUSA, JR., ANALYST, J.P. MORGAN, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "A key part of the thesis is that the industrial business would grow in double digits verses its peer group growing at high single digits. A key aspect of the last cycle was the fact that these guys didn't outperform the group from an earnings growth perspective for the entire upturn. You look at what they did in 2012 and will do in 2013 and they'll outperform the group for the first time really since Jeff Immelt took over. Another star performer: its jet engine business, where profits jumped 22 percent. GE supplies engines for Boeing's grounded 787 Dreamliner jet, but it says that won't be a headwind. Tusa says GE could possibly suffer a slight revenue loss if production schedules are changed but it shouldn't seriously hurt the stock. SOUNDBITE: STEPHEN TUSA, JR., ANALYST, J.P. MORGAN, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "In the end, maybe a few engines get shifted around here and there, but even if a few engines go, there's such low margins right now, that it really isn't going to be an issue other than impacting the broader aerospace sentiment." REPORTER STAND-UP: FRED KATAYAMA, REUTERS REPORTER (ENGLISH) SAYING: "One good sign of future growth: GE's backlog of equipment orders rose to a record high. Does that portend good news for the U.S. economy, given GE's status as an economic bellwether that makes everything from gas turbines to gas dryers? BNP Paribas economist Bricklin Dwyer says it spells modest growth for the economy." SOUNDBITE: BRICKLIN DWYER, ECONOMIST, BNP PARIBAS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "You get two snapshots, one that looks at the cyclical nature of the economy, so near term fluctuations. You also get a look at what's going on long term. Are we seeing a lot of orders, for example, airline engines that would suggest longer term trends in the U.S. are picking up or improving? So you get two different looks at the U.S. economy. Both suggest a kind of modest growth going forward unfortunately." Dwyer says GE's earnings are "pretty good," but they suggest that the broader U.S. economy will be sluggish. GE itself said that while it's seeing solid growth in China, the outlook for the developed markets like the U.S. and Europe remains uncertain.