Warren Buffett’s GE Bet for 2011

General Electric looks promising as we head into the near future. Upward action from this U.S.-based conglomerate will mean a nice payday for investors in 2011.


This week, GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt provided an optimistic forecast for the firm.

In comments made to investors during the company's annual meeting, he explained that, though demanding, the steps taken in the aftermath of the global economic crisis have helped GE get back on track. He expects the firm's core businesses will grow in 2011.

In addition, Immelt pointed to China as a promising region for the company in the new year, saying the company expects to see high double-digit growth.

By paring back the size of its financial branch, GE Capital, and refocusing on its industrial roots, the company has already made great strides on the path to recovery.

This fall, executives offered up an optimistic outlook for the company's M&A future, explaining that over the next few years the firm has the capability to spend about $30 billion on acquisitions.

Following through with this forecast, the company made a number of notable purchases in closing months of 2010, including the $1.3 billion deal to acquire U.K-based Wellstream which was announced earlier this week.

One investor who likely looks forward to GE's ongoing return to prominence in the new year is Berkshire Hathaway chair Warren Buffett.

Buffett and GE have developed a well documented relationship in recent years. In the throes of the 2008 financial meltdown, the Oracle of Omaha lent a hand to the struggling conglomerate, providing $3 billion in return for preferred stock and warrants to buy $3 billion in GE common shares at a set price. Buffett's investment played an instrumental part in saving the firm when it was on the brink of catastrophe.

Although the company has recovered during the period following the financial meltdown, GE's stock hasn't seen the type of dramatic upward trajectory that fellow Buffett-holding Goldman Sachs has seen.

Warren Buffett
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Warren Buffett

Nevertheless, the world famous investor has remained faithful and held onto his GE preferred shares. This equity has not only provided him with a front row seat to the company's resurgence but also a well received annual 10% dividend.

There is a good chance that General Electric will end up being another home run for Buffett in 2011.

ETF investors may find funds including the Vanguard Industrial ETF , iShares Dow Jones U.S. Industrial Sector Index Fund and the Industrial Select Sector SPDR attractive ways to follow the Oracle's lead.

These funds are notable for their heavy exposure to General Electric. In all three, the firm is listed as the No. 1 holding, accounting for 12%, 11% and 10% of VIS, IYJ and XLI respectively.

Aside from GE, however, all three boast heavy exposure to other notable industrial household names including 3M , Caterpillar and United Technologies . These companies will also benefit in 2011 as the global economy continues to recover.


In addition to writing ETF Action, Don Dion is president and founder of Dion Money Management, a fee-based investment advisory firm to affluent individuals, families and nonprofit organizations, where he is responsible for setting investment policy, creating custom portfolios and overseeing the performance of client accounts. Founded in 1996 and based in Williamstown, Mass., Dion Money Management manages assets for clients in 49 states and 11 countries. Dion is a licensed attorney in Massachusetts and Maine and has more than 25 years' experience working in the financial markets, having founded and run two publicly traded companies before establishing Dion Money Management.

Dion also is publisher of the Fidelity Independent Adviser family of newsletters, which provides to a broad range of investors his commentary on the financial markets, with a specific emphasis on mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. With more than 100,000 subscribers in the U.S. and 29 other countries, Fidelity Independent Adviser publishes six monthly newsletters and three weekly newsletters. Its flagship publication, Fidelity Independent Adviser, has been published monthly for 11 years and reaches 40,000 subscribers.


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