Profits have surged at US conglomerate General Electric (GE), adding to the wave of corporations whose earnings have exceeded expectations. GE said net earnings had risen by 79% to $3.4bn (£2.01bn) for the first three months of 2011 from a year earlier. It also increased its dividend.Revenue rose 6% to $38.45bn, when many analysts had expected a decline for the quarter.
GE is seen as a bellwether for the US economy, given the breadth of its operations, which include a financial arm as well as industrial units.The profit growth was fuelled by growth in its healthcare and transport divisions, and net profits of $1.8bn at GE Capital. "As today's results show, GE has emerged from the recession a stronger, more competitive company," said GE chief executive Jeff Immelt. The dividend increase - by one cent to 15 cents - is the third in the past 12 months, and is effective from the third quarter of this year.
In addition, Apple, Intel, Nokia and McDonald's have all beat forecasts this week.