Economy Growing 'Step-by-Step': GE's Immelt

Jeff Immelt
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Jeff Immelt

The economy is growing “step-by-step,” Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, told CNBC Friday.

“This economy is getting better each and every day,” said Immelt, who spoke with CNBC at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an annual gathering of manufacturers of electronic equipment.

GE is the parent company of NBC, which owns CNBC.

Immelt said that investors can expect dividends to keep pace with earnings, as he promised in December. Last year, the company raised dividends twice.

“The dividend is important to investors,” added Immelt. “If we can have a stock that’s yielding 3 to 4 percent plus have the kind of upside we think is in the stock, I think that spells well for GE investors.”

He also pointed to the company’s acquisition in 2010's fourth quarter of three separate companies—two oil and gas enterprises, and a third, health care, for prices of between $500 million and $3 billion—as signs of GE's diversity and strength.

GE is selling a 51 percent stake in NBC to cable provider Comcast , which likely will take place in January, said Immelt. The deal is now in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission, he added, which is circulating the paperwork for approval. Both the FCC and the Justice Department must okay the sale.

Immelt was at CES to showcase GE's strides in digitizing energy. He predicted that by the end of this decade, "consumer empowerment" will take hold, in which consumers will have better control over their energy usage.