General Electric reports rise in profits

US industrial giant General Electric Friday bested quarterly earnings from a year ago, as it reported higher profits in all of its major operating segments.

The US conglomerate said net income came in at $4.0 billion, up 7.5 percent from the year-ago levels. That equated to 38 cents per share.

Analysts had projected earnings of 43 cents per share.

General Electric, which builds power generation equipment, wind turbines and other industrial products, said its earnings from continuing operations were 41 cents per share. Continuing earnings adjusted for non-operating pension costs were 44 cents per share.

All of the sub-units of General Electric's industrial division showed year-on-year gains, with double-digit percentage increases in oil and gas, energy management, aviation and transportation.

GE Capital, the company's financing unit, posted 9 percent year-on-year growth, the company said.

GE said it repurchased $2.1 billion in stock during the fourth quarter, and in December raised its quarterly dividend by 12 percent to 19 cents per share.

In December, GE chief executive Jeff Immelt spoke of an "investment pause" in some sectors, partly linked to the protracted Washington policy debate on the fiscal cliff.

On Friday, Immelt expressed a measured confidence about the prospects for 2013, noting that growth in China and "resource rich" countries was helping to offset uncertainty in developed economies.

"We ended the year with a strong quarter, despite the mixed global economic environment," Immelt said in a statement.

"With our largest backlog in history and a substantial amount of cash generated by our businesses in the fourth quarter, we have great momentum going into 2013."

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