GE Sticking to Its Guns

General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) just reported a good, solid quarter wherein its infrastructure segment grew profits by 23% and the commercial finance division managed 18% operating profit growth. There were record orders and record operating income -- a handful of confetti and smiles all around.

But all of that is just run-of-the mill reporting for a company of GE's stature, of course. You expect to hit a couple of records every quarter, or else it's going to be a gloomy presentation indeed.

So what's really exciting about the second-quarter results? First, the order volume is growing much faster than revenue, which means solid demand, guaranteed revenue for quarters to come, and the luxury of cherry-picking the best contracts rather than chasing sales at any cost.

Second, the company is sticking to its tradition of only doing business where it can be profitable and dominant. For example, management is looking for buyers for its troubled (all together now) subprime mortgage lending operations, and has already sold (OK, you can stop now) $3.7 billion of that loan portfolio, which was worth $4.5 billion as recently as last quarter (seriously, quit it). Furthermore, the plastics segment was recently sold to a Saudi industrial materials giant for $11.6 billion in cash.

On the flipside of all that, GE is buying a British aerospace equipment company for $4.8 billion and kicked off a joint venture in nuclear reactor manufacturing with Hitachi (NYSE: HIT  ) . The Hitachi deal has already pulled in $527 million to GE's income coffers -- not bad for a mere baby.

Looking further out, the company pleased the Street by reaffirming earnings guidance for the full year. Even better, GE announced that it is raising the size of its share repurchase program and plans to spend $12 billion repurchasing shares in the latter half of 2007.

GE is sticking to what it knows best, which is rebuilding and reshaping itself into whatever form can support the highest profits today. The numbers bear out the validity of that strategy. Carry on, gentlefolk.

Further Foolishness:

General Electric isn't a Motley Fool Income Investor pick, nor has it ever been -- but the company should appeal to investors with an eye for steady, massive profits and generous dividends. Find out what it takes to beat mighty GE with a free 30-day trial subscription.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure will lead me to the rock that is higher than I.


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