Saturday, April 18, 2009

General Electric profits fall 35%

US conglomerate General Electric, which is viewed as a barometer for the health of the US economy, has reported a 35% fall in quarterly profit.

Profit in the first three months of 2009 slid to $2.8bn (£1.9bn) from $4.4bn a year earlier.

However, the decline was less than analysts had been expecting. Shares in GE rose 1%.

The recession hurt sales in most areas of GE's business, which range from jet engines to household appliances.

'Performing well'

Jeff Immelt, the company's chief executive, said he would cut costs by more than $5bn in 2009.

"Amid a continued weak economy, we're performing well," he said.

GE has had a tough first quarter. It was forced to cut its dividend payment for the first time since 1938 and its top credit rating was downgraded.

GE's finance unit GE Capital has been hit because it makes a wide variety of loans, including mortgages, that have since seen their value plummet.

The economic downturn has also hit its industrial unit, which makes aircraft engines, home appliances, light bulbs and wind turbines.