GE Expects 2015 Industrials Units Profit to Rise At Least 10%

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General Electric Co (GE) said it expects profit from its industrial units to rise by at least 10 percent in 2015, helped by its power and water, aviation and energy management businesses.

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The company is reducing its exposure to its finance business, including through its split-off of Synchrony Financial. Earlier this year, it struck a $16.9 billion deal to buy the power business of France's Alstom SA.

Chief Executive Jeff Immelt reiterated on Tuesday a target of increasing contribution from industrial businesses to 75 percent of overall earnings by 2016.

The units, comprising power and water, oil and gas, energy management, aviation, healthcare, transportation and appliances and lighting businesses, made up just over half of GE's total profit in 2013.

"We're tracking to have the world's best infrastructure company," Immelt told a meeting of analysts and investors in New York on Tuesday.

The company has a target of improving gross margins by about 50 basis points a year, Immelt said.

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GE forecast 2015 earnings of about $1.70-$1.80 per share, including earnings from GE Capital. This was the first time in five years that the company issued specific earnings forecast. (http://invent.ge/1sAVb1H)

Analysts on average were expecting earnings of $1.79 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We're really planning the company for a sluggish oil and gas sector in '15," Immelt said.

Low oil prices are providing the latest pressure on the U.S. conglomerate, with fears that decreased capital spending by oil companies and other customers will hurt GE's growing oil & gas business.

Earnings from the company's industrial units are expected to be $1.10-$1.20 per share next year.

GE said it expects organic revenue growth of 2-5 percent at the businesses next year.

Analysts were expecting total revenue of $149.78 billion, a 0.6 percent rise from the $148.92 billion that they expect for this year.

GE's shares closed down 0.4 percent at $24.49 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Despite Immelt's moves to reshape GE's portfolio this year, the company's shares have languished, down about 12.6 percent in 2014 through Tuesday against increases for major U.S. stock benchmarks.

(By Lewis Krauskopf and Sagarika Jaisinghani; Editing by Joyjeet Das)