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What You Need to Know About General Electric Company's Earnings

By Steve Heller – Jul 18, 2015 at 1:03PM

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The big-picture view of GE's second quarter results.

On Friday morning, General Electric (GE -0.01%) reported its second-quarter earnings. Revenue came in above Wall Street expectations, while earnings fell below.

For the quarter, GE generated $32.8 billion in revenue, translating to a loss of $0.13 per share. After adjusting for one-time items related to GE's plan to divest its non-core financial services businesses, the company would've earned $0.24 per share. Analysts were anticipating that GE's second quarter would bring in $28.7 billion in revenue and earn $0.31 per share without one-time items.

Overall, General Electric's industrial businesses continued to perform well in the second quarter, with six of its seven industrial segments reporting organic revenue growth compared to a year ago. The detractor was GE's oil and gas segment, which experienced a 4% decline in organic revenue in light of challenging market conditions.

Source: GE.

Currency headwinds negatively affected GE's second-quarter industrial segment revenues by about $1.2 billion. Still, GE managed to grow its industrial segment operating earnings by 18% to $0.26 per share. Including the assets that GE plans on keeping after shedding the bulk of GE Capital, the company collectively generated $0.31 per share in operating earnings, an increase of 19% year over year.

On the margin front, General Electric's second-quarter industrial gross margins increased by 60 basis points year over year, operating margins increased by 70 basis points, and services margins increased by 130 basis points through the first half of the year.

Source: GE.

In terms of guidance, GE raised the lower end of its 2015 industrial operating earnings target by $0.03 per share to $1.13 to $1.20 per share, and it now plans sell $100 billion in non-core financial assets this year, up from $90 billion last quarter. In other words, GE Capital's planned asset sales are trending ahead of schedule.

Speaking of GE Capital...
During the quarter, General Electric recorded a one-time charge of $4.3 billion charge against earnings as part of its plan to exit its traditional financial services businesses. Thus far, GE has booked approximately $18.4 billion of the $23 billion it expects to charge related to these asset sales.

GE also plans to spin off the remainder of its Synchrony Financial stake at the start of 2016, which at current valuations is worth over $24 billion, and should yield $18 to $20 billion for shareholders.

Industrial cash flow returns to growth
In the first quarter, GE's industrial cash flow fell by 29% year over year to $890 million, driven by delays in payment collection and aviation inventory supply chain issues. As expected, these issues corrected themselves in the second quarter, and GE's industrial cash flow for the first half of the year increased by 79% year over year to $3.5 billion.

At face value, it appears that GE's industrial businesses are collectively generating healthy cash flows to help fund its operations, invest in growth, repurchase shares, and continue paying dividends.

Making progress
After adjusting for one-time items and only accounting for the financial assets that GE plans on keeping after divesting the majority of GE Capital, nearly 84% of GE's operating earnings came from industrial activities in the second quarter. As a frame of reference, GE's longer term goal is to generate 90% of its earnings from industrial activities by 2018.

Ultimately, GE's second-quarter earnings shows the company is making great progress toward becoming a highly focused industrial enterprise.

Steve Heller has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of General Electric Company. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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