GE Sees Return to Double-Digit Earnings Growth in 2005

Diversified manufacturer General Electric Co. (GE) said Tuesday it expects earnings to grow between 10 percent and 15 percent in 2005, boosted by strong growth from its financial and energy units.

General Electric said it looks for 2005 earnings per share in a $1.75 to $1.83 range. Analysts, on average, forecast 2005 earnings per share of $1.80, with estimates ranging from $1.75 to $1.84, according to Reuters Estimates.

"As we look out beyond '05, we see a set of businesses that can deliver consistently 10 to 15 percent earnings growth," said GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt (search), speaking to investors and analysts.

Double-digit earnings growth for GE, which operates businesses ranging from jet engines to media group NBC Universal, would mark the end of three straight years of single-digit percentage gains.

Since taking over as CEO in 2001, Immelt has transformed the company in a business portfolio reshuffle that included the acquisition of medical equipment company Amersham (search), the merger of entertainment operations with Vivendi Universal (V) and the divestiture of part of its insurance business.

The company also reiterated its fourth-quarter earnings per share forecast of 48 cents to 51 cents. On average, analysts are expecting 50 cents for the fourth quarter.

Shares of GE fell 9 cents to $37.39 in New York Stock Exchange (search) trade.