General Electric Earnings, Revenue Top Estimates

General Electric Co. (GE) clothes washers and dryers.
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General Electric Co. (GE) clothes washers and dryers.

General Electric reported first-quarter earnings on Wednesday that topped Wall Street's expectations, as it sold more oil and gas drilling equipment and shed its stake in NBC Universal.

Weakness in Europe, though, limited gains in sales of power and water equipment, and shares fell more than one percent in premarket trading after briefly rising.

During the quarter, GE posted operating earnings, excluding items, of 39 cents per share. That compared to 34 cents per share in the comparable year-ago period.

Revenue slipped to $35.0 billion from $35.18 billion a year ago, but it topped estimates.

Analysts had expected General Electric to report earnings per share of 35 cents per share on $34.51 billion in revenue, according to a consensus estimate from Thomson Reuters.

(Click here to track the market reaction to GE's earnings report.)

Earlier this year, GE sold its stake in NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC and, to Comcast for $16.7 billion.

Orders surged during the quarter, with aviation up 47 percent, gas gaining 24 percent and equipment rising 10 percent.

GE Chairman Jeff Imelt said in a statement that markets were mixed, with strength coming from the U.S. and emerging markets but Europe showing weakness.

"Europe might negatively surprise a lot of us here," Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management. "European corporations are reluctant to step up and make major cap expenditures in this environment. It's probably a sign that if it's weak for GE it's going to be weak for a lot of other industrials."

GE Capital earnings rose 9 percent for the quarter.

"Despite the challenging macro environment, GE is well- positioned for stronger performance for the remainder of the year and we are executing on our strategic priorities," Immelt said.