GE sees best profit outlook in a decade

Updated: 2011-04-28 09:19


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SALT LAKE CITY - General Electric Co sees its best earnings growth prospects in a decade as the global economic recovery drives demand for the heavy energy and aviation equipment it makes, top executives said.

Rising oil prices have not yet taken a toll on global growth rates, Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said at the company's shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

"Things are getting better every day. The global economy outside the US is strong," he told reporters.

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Asked about oil prices, which have risen about 33 percent over the past year on rising demand, particularly in emerging markets, Immelt said they have not yet taken a toll on growth.

"It's something to think about, but it doesn't seem to be hurting the economy," he said.

The US economy is also improving, he added, although the housing sector remains a weak spot.

GE believes its profit growth over the next few years will be the best it has seen in a decade, officials said.

"This is the best earnings outlook we've had in the last 10 years," Chief Financial Officer Keith Sherin told a crowd of 268 shareholders.

GE no longer provides investors with numeric profit forecasts; but analysts on average look for earnings per share excluding one-time items to rise 16.5 percent this year.

GE, which employs about 134,000 people in the United States, each year holds its annual shareholder meeting in a different city where it has operations. Its energy, healthcare and finance arms all have a presence in Salt Lake City.

In a nod to the prevalence of firearms in the Western United States, the sign directing shareholders to the meeting's location in the city's Salt Palace convention center pointed out that no guns would be allowed in the meeting room.


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