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GE earnings rise on emerging market growth

NEW YORK (AP) -- General Electric Co.'s net income rose 8 percent in the fourth quarter as earnings at all of the conglomerate's industrial segments improved due to growth in developing economies.

GE, based in Fairfield, Conn., reported net income of $4 billion Friday on revenue of $39.3 billion for the quarter. Last year during the same period the company earned $3.7 billion on sales of $38 billion. Per share earnings rose to 38 cents from 35 cents last year.

The company's operating profit per share was 44 cents, a penny higher than analysts polled by FactSet expected. GE's revenue also beat analysts' expectations of $38.8 billion.

GE shares rose 3.4 percent in pre-market trading to $22.03.

In a statement, CEO Jeff Immelt said the outlook for developed markets remained uncertain, but China and other emerging markets, along with regions that are exploiting natural resources, are growing.

Immelt has been reshaping GE, focusing on its more traditional industrial operations, such as making complex industrial equipment and providing services to industrial companies. GE also makes refrigerators, CT-scanners, wind turbines, gas turbines and engines for jets and trains. In a new push, it also provides equipment and services to the oil and gas industry.

The company is shrinking its banking division and trimming other non-industrial operations like commercial real estate.

The shift has led to higher profit margins, a trend that continued in the fourth quarter. GE reported that profits at all seven of its industrial segments grew, with growth topping 10 percent at four of them _ oil and gas, energy management, aviation and transportation.

In recent quarters GE's revenue has slipped slightly after it sold non-industrial assets like NBC Universal, and this has concerned investors. In the fourth quarter, though, revenue grew 4 percent from a year earlier.

The company expects revenue and profit growth to continue this year. GE said its backlog of new business reached $210 billion, its highest ever. During the fourth quarter the company announced new contracts with Petrobras in Brazil and with Chevron in Angola to help those oil companies extract oil from deep waters off their coasts. It also announced orders for jet engines to power 50 aircraft for Alaska Airlines.

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