How General Electric Company's Newly Refocused Business Strategy Is Paying Off

General Electric posted a strong second quarter today, which showed a strengthening industrial portfolio.

Daniel Miller
Daniel Miller
Jul 18, 2014 at 6:15PM

General Electric (NYSE:GE) is right smack in the middle of a very busy year. Just last month Alstom, a French engineering company, agreed to sell a large chunk of its assets to General Electric, and by the end of this month GE expects to launch an initial public offering (IPO) for its retail finance business, Synchrony Financial. Both moves by General Electric have been cheered by investors, and today the industrial conglomerate released its second quarter results. Here are the details.

By the numbers
General Electric's operating earnings per share climbed 8% in the second quarter to $0.39, compared to last year. Revenues checked in at $36.2 billion for the second quarter, a 3% gain over last year's second quarter.

"GE had a good performance in the quarter and in the first half of 2014, with double-digit industrial segment profit growth, 30 basis points of margin expansion, and nearly $6 billion returned to shareholders," said GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt. "The environment continues to be generally positive." 

One reason investors are cheering the coming IPO of Synchrony Financial is because it represents the new direction General Electric is taking its business. Slowly, but surely, GE is refocusing on its industrial roots and distancing itself from GE Capital which brought on severe problems during the great recession.

In today's second quarter presentation, it's evident that GE's industrial portfolio is strengthening.

Back to its roots
Industrial segment profits rose 9% in the second quarter to $4.2 billion and its margins expanded 20 basis points over the same period last year. General Electric's total industrial segment revenue growth was 7% in the second quarter, compared to last year; however, the good news is that much of the growth is organic. GE's industrial segment organic growth is 6% through the first six months of 2014, compared to the same time frame last year.

Breakdown of GE's industrial segment profits. Source: GE's 2014 Q2 presentation

Aside from the biggest winners, such as Boeing and Airbus Group, General Electric walked away with some very big contracts from this week's Farnborough Airshow. GE locked up $36 billion worth of orders for its world class aviation engines, at current list prices. GE's industrial products are highly in demand, which is fueling the company's order backlog and offers investors significant revenue transparency.

Chart by author. Information source: General Electric's 2014 Q2 presentation

General Electric's backlog recorded its strongest services growth since the second quarter of 2011, and its total order backlog is $23 billion higher than it was during last year's second quarter -- good stuff.

Adding to GE's strengthening industrial portfolio was its Alstom purchase, the company's largest acquisition in history. While GE was forced to revise its initial offer, to appease the French government, the economics of the deal remained unchanged. GE received some very valuable Alstom assets at a 7.9x pro forma EBITDA. 

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The move should produce a very attractive return on investment down the road and the assets will immediately add to General Electric's bottom line. In addition to that, part of what makes General Electric one of the world's greatest conglomerates, it has proven to create significant and valuable synergies between its existing businesses.

GE predicts it can create roughly $1.2 billion in cost synergies by the fifth year. What investors will want to watch is how General Electric goes about integrating its newly found assets; it will take a broad effort on GE's part, and a full team led by executive Mark Hutchinson is already beginning the process.

Bottom line
Ultimately, General Electric's revenue and earnings checked in line with expectations, even if slightly lower. GE is incredibly thorough and detailed during its quarterly reports and dishes out very valuable information to investors in its presentations. For this reason, I'll be taking multiple deep dives on the industrial segment, the Alstom deal, and the coming IPO -- stay tuned.