GE's Optimistic Catalyst

It's not easy to write a short article about the behemoth bellwether conglomerate that is General Electric (NYSE: GE  ) . The company of companies is a major player in every sector it does business in. And what many analysts and investors wanted to know from the company today was how its corporate customers were spending, which is considered an important economic indicator.

To study GE's financials is an exercise in macroeconomics, literally. Good news from the company for its second-quarter earnings report released this morning was a catalyst for the major indexes after a lackluster week filled with warnings from tech land. Letdowns came from Siebel Systems (Nasdaq: SEBL  ) , PeopleSoft (Nasdaq: PSFT  ) , VeritasSoftware (Nasdaq: VRTS  ) , ConexantSystems (Nasdaq: CNXT  ) , Emulex (NYSE: ELX  ) , and a raft of lesser names. But another way to look at this is that the warnings didn't include the less volatile mega-market-cap companies on par with GE.

The synopsis is that the company's numbers came in better than expected, and Chairman Jeff Immelt spoke positively about the economy, saying, "This is the best economy we've seen in years." Orders grew 13%. GE reported net earnings of $3.9 billion, or $0.38 per share, which were flat compared with a year earlier but beat consensus estimates by a penny. Revenue rose 11% to $37.04 billion, beating consensus estimates for $35.99 billion.

GE's so optimistic about the future, in fact, that it narrowed its guidance for the year to $1.55 to $1.60 a share. And the company said it expects 2005 to be back on track with its historic norm of better than 10% revenue growth per year.

I wouldn't worry too much about the warnings this week. If GE says the future is bright, it's smart to listen.

Fool contributor Mark Mahorney doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.


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