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GE net income down but outlook is up

– General Electric posted lower first-quarter net income than a year ago because last year’s results included the sale of NBC Universal.

But the company said its industrial divisions performed well and that the economic environment was “positive.”

GE said Thursday that it earned $3 billion on revenue of $34.18 billion in the year’s first three months, down from $3.5 billion on revenue of $34.94 billion during the same period last year.

On a per-share basis, GE earned 30 cents.

Adjusted to reflect continuing operations and to remove the effect of one-time charges, GE earned 33 cents per share, down 15 percent from a year ago.

Analysts had expected GE to earn 32 cents per share, on average, on sales of $34.45 billion, according to FactSet.

GE shares were up 2 percent in pre-market trading an hour before the market opened.

GE, which plans to close its Fort Wayne operations next year, has a good view of the world economy because it has manufacturing plants and sales operations around the world.

In a presentation to investors, GE reported that European operations performed better than expected, and developing nations saw growth.

Its U.S. business picked up in March, evidence that the slowdown this past winter was related to frigid weather.

GE sold its remaining interest in NBC Universal last year as part of a plan to focus on building and servicing big, complicated industrial equipment such as aircraft engines, power plant turbines and oil and gas drilling equipment.

The next step for GE will be to complete a public offering of its consumer credit card division, expected this year.

Operating profit from industrial operations rose 12 percent in the quarter, the company said.

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