GE cash flow turns negative in quarter; profit, revenue beat


General Electric Co reported on Friday that first-quarter cash flow from its industrial operations turned negative and was less than the company expected, though its earnings and revenue exceeded analyst estimates.

The maker of jet engines, power plants and other industrial equipment reported a negative $1.6 billion in cash flow from industrial operating activities compared with a negative $600 million it expected for the quarter due to higher working capital and the timing of bills to customers. Investors have been watching cash flow as an indicator of GE's operating performance, and GE said it still expects to hit its cash target of $12 billion to $14 billion for the full year.

GE shares were down about 1 percent at $29.94 in mid-morning trading.

The stock has outperformed the sector in recent weeks and that could make the shares "less favorable in the current risk-on market," said Deane Dray, analyst at RBC Capital markets.

Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt noted a 10 percent rise in quarterly orders and said the world economy was "an attractive environment for GE."

"We see global growth accelerating, while the U.S. continues to improve," Immelt said on a conference call, adding that growth in China, Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa this year were all "stronger than last year."

GE beat analysts estimates for adjusted earnings and revenue, even though revenue fell 1 percent to $27.66 billion, due to lower sales in its oil-and-gas and lighting businesses. Analysts expected $26.26 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Adjusted earnings of 21 cents a share were unchanged from a year ago and beat analyst estimates of 17 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

GE said industrial organic revenue, which is from continuing businesses, rose 7 percent in the quarter, a strong showing according to analysts.

Earnings from continuing operations attributable to GE shareholders rose to $858 million in the quarter ended March 31, from $248 million a year earlier.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York and Rachit Vats in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Bernadette Baum)