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$GE Beats Expectations, Immelt Comments on Weakness in Europe

“(Reuters) – Strong sales to aviation customers helped General Electric Co’s first-quarter revenue beat Wall Street expectations on Friday, assuaging fears of a miss after a lukewarm report on March U.S. factory activity.

The world’s biggest maker of jet engines and electric turbines said revenue rose slightly to $35 billion, surpassing the $34.51 billion analysts had expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“That is a beat on revenue, and that’s important because the Street has been very worried about revenue numbers at industrial firms because the quarter appears to have tailed off in March,” said Jack DeGan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, which owns GE shares.

The Institute for Supply Management said earlier this month that U.S. factory activity grew at the slowest rate in three months in March, suggesting the economy lost some momentum at the end of the first quarter.

While investors and analysts await more information on sales from GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt on an earnings conference call, GE said in a statement that orders from aviation customers jumped 47 percent and orders from energy customers rose 24 percent in the quarter.

GE’s order backlog – a closely watched indicator of future sales – rose to $216 billion from $210 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012. Backlog can be a positive sign that customers are willing to wait in line for a company’s products, or a sign that a company is having a hard time meeting demand. GE’s backlog has grown consistently in recent quarters….”

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