HARTFORD, CONN. - General Electric Co. delivered some cheer Friday to investors who were worried about a slowing economy, saying its quarterly profit rose 4 percent and reaffirming its outlook for 2008.
The conglomerate's big-ticket business -- jet engines, railroad locomotives and water treatment plants -- powered GE's profit, posting $3.4 billion, or 26 percent more than the fourth quarter of 2006. It also gave GE a global reach that should help blunt the impact of a possible U.S. recession.
"Every place we went, there's a need for power, there's a need for planes and there's just no signs that this global infrastructure boom is slowing at all," Chief Executive Jeff Immelt told investors in a conference call.
Total net income rose to $6.7 billion, or 66 cents a share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $6.44 billion, or 62 cents per share a year earlier. Earnings from continuing operations climbed to 68 cents a share in the latest period, from 58 cents in the prior-year frame.
Revenue jumped 18 percent, to nearly $48.6 billion. The company said that more than half of its revenue came from outside the United States.
GE shares rose $1.10 Friday, or 3.3 percent, to close at $34.31.
Quarterly profit fell slightly below the average forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call, while revenue topped Wall Street's outlook of $47.28 billion. GE, meanwhile, had forecast a quarterly profit of 67 to 69 cents per share.