BOSTON: Higher power and aviation earnings helped General Electric return to profitability in the first quarter as it announced plans on Friday for cost cuts this year and next. But the industrial conglomerate, under pressure from activist Trian Partners to boost profitability, reported lower earnings in the oil and gas business and described conditions in the sector as still challenging despite higher oil prices. “GE had a good quarter in a slow-growth and volatile environment,” chief executive Jeff Immelt said on a conference call with analysts, adding that he sees global growth “accelerating” and the US continuing to improve.
Immelt said GE would cut $1 billion in costs in 2017 and another $1 billion in 2018. The longtime GE chief is being prodded by Trian’s Nathan Peltz to boost returns, sparking speculation Immelt could soon retire. GE reported $619 million in profits in the three months ending March 31, up from a $61 million loss in the year-ago period when it was hit by one-time costs linked to asset sales. Revenues dipped 0.7 per cent to $27.7 billion. Operating profits growth was strongest in power, aviation and renewable energy.— AFP