Tuesday, December 15, 2009

LIVE: General Electric's Annual Outlook Meeting (GE)

For folks who didn't have time to listen in* The Wall Street Journal does a huge service (in reverse chron order):
4p.m. EST: Immelt apparently didn't like some of what he read last week in analysts' notes following the company's big GE Capital meeting. "Don't lose sight of the fact that we have some excellent core businesses" in financial services, he says, although he once again adds that "we extended too far."

GE Capital has "some really great franchises," he says, stressing that it remains a preeminent lender to small and mid-sized enterprises in the U.S.

He reiterates that losses in GE Capital will peak next year. "Commercial real estate is manageable, but still very tough" heading into 2010, he says.

3:57 p.m. EST: CEO Immelt says the company will recognize $11 billion in global stimulus-related orders and revenues from governments in such areas as China, Europe and Japan, as well as in the United States. He said 40% of those revenues are from outside the U.S. on such projects as clean energy, health-care product sales and infrastructure projects, such as recycling of water.

3:52 p.m. If CEO Immelt had to pick a single word to describe 2010 profits compared to 2009, it would be "flat." He said profits in NBC Universal will be down slightly next year, but profits in the conglomerate's big industrial and finance units will be flat. "In a word, flat," he said of the overall profit expectations. Immelt noted that GE did about 18 cents a share to 20 cents a share in restructuring in 2009 and may do about half that next year.

3:35 p.m. EST: GE's services businesses "really withstood a very tough economy" in 2009, CEO Immelt says. The conglomerate is expecting 2010 growth in services revenue in all segments except transportation, he says. GE's services revenue is expecting about $36 billion in revenue from services in 2009.

3:30 p.m. EST: CEO Immelt, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and purple tie as he ambles across the stage, says the company will be looking for deals to replace NBC Universal revenues, restore the GE Capital dividend to the parent company and to start doing share buybacks again in coming years.

"Going forward, we really just have a simpler task," he says. "It is to continue to invest and grow in infrastructure and technology businesses and to create value in our capital finance businesses. It's a much easier hand to play."

3:23 p.m. EST: A goal for GE Capital is to restore the dividend that it pays to its corporate parent "in the next few years," CEO Immelt vows. "In the next few years, we ought to be able to do that again."

He adds that GE Capital was allowed to "get too big" by its parent. The finance unit "got into businesses that weren't central to the core," he said. From now on, "we're going to be very disciplined about where the business is and where it's going, going forward."

3:17 p.m. EST: GE "is back on offense" after entering 2009 in something of a defensive crouch, CEO Immelt says. "You can think about the company being back on offense."

3:15 p.m. EST: Immelt gives himself high marks for keeping GE Capital "safe and secure," a priority at last year's annual outlook meeting. "We've done a lot in GE Capital," although "still with some headwinds in commercial real estate, for sure," heading into 2010.

3:09 p.m. EST: CEO Immelt starts by outlining five "big themes" that he says distinguishes GE. Among them, he says, the company is positioned for solid earnings and cash flow and has strengths in technology, services, emerging markets and "big solutions." It also has defined the businesses it wants to be in. Immelt notes as well that "the worst is behind us" in financial services, and he says the company will generate "a substantial amount" of cash flow. "These are kind of the big themes" driving GE, he says.

3:04 p.m. EST: A line of analysts and investors stretched down a hallway of Rockefeller Center Tuesday ahead of CEO Jeff Immelt's speech. GE executives and investors are milling about in Studio EH, where Saturday Night Live is filmed. Jazz music is playing. GE executives seem more upbeat, relaxed and cheery than last year, talking about their recent business travels. The GE logo and slogan, "Imagination at Work," is displayed on overhead screens and on a sketch comedy stage to the right of the main stage.

-By Bob Sechler, Dow Jones Newswires; 512-394-0285; bob.sechler@dowjones.com; and Paul Glader, The Wall Street Journal; paul.glader@wsj.com

HERE's the rest of the post (after the 4 p.m time-stamp)
*We have the link to the site here.