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GE looking to developing nations for future growth

CINCINNATI -- Sixty percent of General Electric Co.'s growth in the next decade will come from developing countries, with revenue from China alone expected to top $5 billion in 2005, GE's top executive said yesterday at the company's annual meeting.

''This is a great time for your company, because we are outperforming in a slow-growth world," chief executive Jeff Immelt told shareholders.

The industrial, financial, and media powerhouse has won 70 percent of China's commitments for power turbine engines over the past two years along with a commitment from the country's East-West Rail line for locomotive equipment, Immelt said.

Fairfield, Conn.-based GE also is targeting the Middle East for growth in the areas of oil and gas, aircraft engines, water technology, and healthcare, Immelt said.

He expects GE to have another year of double-digit percentage increases in earnings in 2005 with revenue totaling $165 billion and $19 billion in profits.

About 30 protesters, mostly GE retirees and union members, demonstrated outside the meeting and several retirees spoke during the meeting, urging the company to increase pensions.

Norbert Flynn, 90, of Erie, Pa., said the company has not contributed to the pension fund since 1987. He said the last raise he received was in 2000, but increases in the cost of living have made it difficult for retirees to meet their financial obligations.

''We are losing ground to inflation every day," he said.

''We have a commitment to our pensioners, and we take it seriously," Immelt told shareholders.

GE shares rose 22 cents to $36.40 in trading yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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