GE to Eliminate Quarterly Earnings Guidance
General Electric said Tuesday that it will no longer provide specific quarterly earnings guidance, though the company affirmed its earnings target for 2008.
GE did not provide a specific 2009 earnings per share target, in a break with its prior practice, but forecast overall revenue would be flat to down 5 percent next year and affirmed its 2008 earnings target of $1.78 to $1.84 per share.
GE's industrial units make big ticket items ranging from jet engines to electricity producing turbines.
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"For people of my generation, this is the toughest environment we've ever seen,'' GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt told investors.
The cost of many key raw materials, which had been a drag for GE profits for the past few years, are now coming down, with easing prices providing a lift to profit margins next year, Immelt added.
But he said the spreading global recession would likely affect some orders in its backlog.
"It's not like every unit in backlog is going to be shipped, but it's great to come into this with a $170 billion backlog,'' he said.
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Immelt expected profit at GE's NBC Universal media unit to be flat to down slightly next year.
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GE is the parent company of CNBC.
GE told investors earlier this month the fourth quarter had been tougher than anticipated and cut its profit target to a range of 50 cents to 52 cents per share after earlier hoping to earn as much as 65 cents a share.
GE has lost more than half its market value since Immelt took the reins in September 2001, falling from more than $400 billion then to about $168 billion today.