General Electric Co posted a 4 percent rise in net profit Friday, meeting Wall Street estimates on strong global demand for its infrastructure unit and film division.
For the quarter ended December 31, net income rose to $6.7 billion, or 66 cents per share, from $6.44 billion, or 62 cents per share, a year ago.
Earnings from continuing operations totaled 68 cents per share in the latest period, up from 58 cents in the prior-year quarter. The second-largest U.S. company by market capitalization said its revenue rose 18 percent to $48.59 billion from $41.28 billion a year ago.
Profit met the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial, while revenue surpassed estimates of of $47.28 billion. GE had forecast a quarterly profit of 67 cents to 69 cents per share.
Our record performance in such a tough environment validates the strength of our strategy and the talent of our team, said chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt in a statement.
GE shares rose 3 percent to $34.22 before the bell.
GE said that more than half its revenues came from outside the United States, helping to lessen the effects of a possible U.S. recession on the company. The strongest profit growth, 26 percent, came at GE's infrastructure arm, while health care was down 4 percent in the quarter, in part due to a U.S. law changing the way medical equipment is reimbursed.
Infrastructure earnings, which represent sales of aircraft engines, gas turbines and trains, rose 26 percent while revenue rose 30 percent. The aviation and oil and gas units led the division's gains. Orders increased 18 percent to $27 billion, surpassing the company's expectation of 15 percent growth.
Its NBC Universal media unit, which had struggled for several years, has also picked up. Its profit grew 10 percent while revenue rose 8 percent, with the unit's film division driving its growth.
Looking ahead, Immelt predicted 2008 continuing earnings of at least $2.42, reiterating an outlook given last month. For the first quarter, he expects continuing earnings of 50 cents to 53 cents a share.