From turbines to TV, from household appliances to power plants, General Electric (GE) is plugged in to businesses that have shaped the modern world. The company produces -- take a deep breath -- aircraft engines, locomotives and other transportation equipment, kitchen and laundry appliances, lighting, electric distribution and control equipment, generators and turbines, and medical imaging equipment. GE is also one of the US's preeminent financial services providers: GE Capital, comprising commercial finance, commercial aircraft leasing, real estate, and energy financial services, is its largest segment. GE's other segments include Aviation, Home & Business Solutions, and Transportation. GE is selling its appliances business to Electrolux.
Although financial services is GE's biggest segment, the company's raison d'etre has traditionally been its industrial products. In response to changes in the economic markets, the company has shuffled its organizational structure several times as of late. It now divides its operations across eight segments: GE Capital, Healthcare, Aviation, Power & Water, Oil & Gas, Home & Business Solutions, Energy Management, and Transportation. The planned sale of GE's iconic household appliances business to Electrolux for $3.3 billion certainly marks a significant change for the company, but those lines actually account for less than 10% of GE's overall revenues. Electrolux will continue to use the GE Appliances brand through a long-term agreement between the two companies.
In 2013 GE sold its 49% stake in NBCUniversal for nearly $17 billion to Comcast as part of its strategy to focus on its industrial operations. There was already a structure in place for Comcast to eventually take full ownership of NBCUniversal, but stronger than expected growth from the joint venture accelerated those plans.
The company also plans to exit its North American Retail Finance operations. The first step towards that effort is a planned initial public offering of the business.
GE Has approximately 240 manufacturing plants in 38 states in the US and Puerto Rico; it also operates more than 300 plants in 40 other countries. Its vast operations are located in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. The company serves customers in more than 100 countries and generates more the half of its revenue from international markets.
The company restated its 2012 revenues as a result of GE Capital divestitures including GE Money Japan, CLL Trailer Services (in Europe), and Consumer Singapore.
In 2013 GE's revenues declined 0.9% to $146.1 billion (compared to $147.4 billion in 2012), primarily as a result of a 13% decline in the Power & Water segment, which felt the sting of lower volumes. GE Capital's revenues declined 3% to $44.8 billion due to a reduction in ending net investment.
Profits have seen a slow decline since 2011. In 2013, net income fell 4% to $13.1 billion versus $13.6 billion in 2012. Higher operating costs and lower revenues led to the reductions.
Cash flow from operations have also fallen, declining 9% in 2013 to $28.6 billion; those results occurred because of the lower company's lower profitability and changes in working capital.
CEO Jeff Immelt is obviously not shy about making sweeping changes, whether by divesting underperforming segments or investing in probable growth industries. He has emerged from the considerable shadow of his predecessor, Jack Welch, by diverging somewhat from Welch's slavish obsession with the bottom line and encouraging managers to innovate and take more risks. As a result, GE has been growing in such areas as biotech, renewable energy, nanotechnology, and digital technology. Immelt has taken a page from his former boss' playbook by pursuing growth outside the US, particularly in emerging markets like India, China, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
GE hopes to double its oil and gas revenues by 2015 and plans to continue making investments to grow the business. In line with that strategy, GE in 2013 acquired Texas-based Lufkin Industries, which specializes in providing artificial lift technologies for the oil and gas industry as well as making industrial gears. The $3.3 billion deal broadened the GE Oil & Gas unit and supports the company's plans to tighten its focus on industrial customers by providing services and equipment. In 2014 GE launched Predictivity, a portfolio of web-based products to help customers in the Asia/Pacific region improve operational and fiscal productivity.
To further boost its industrial operations, the partnered with XD Electric Group in 2013 to combine GE's grid automation capabilities with XD's high-voltage power equipment. GE Energy Financial Services has also recently invested in Japan's largest solar power project, to be built in Okayama Prefecture; it holds a 60% stake in the project.
Another growth area for GE is mining. In 2012 the company acquired underground mining equipment manufacturers, Industrea Limited and Fairchild International. Both companies are positioned for growth in China, Australia, and the US. It also created a new business unit that year: Australia-based GE Mining.
During 2013, GE Capital provided some $115 billion in new commercial, infrastructure, and municipal financings in the US. It extended around $105 billion of credit to 61 million US customers that year. The company exited its CLL Trailer Services business in Europe and spun off 69% of Swiss consumer finance bank Cembra through an initial public offering.
Mergers and Acquisitions
To boost its global reach, GE's financial arm bought a $2.3 billion portfolio of commercial real estate loans in 2013 from Deutsche Postbank AG that comprises 90% British, as well as German and French, properties.
For the most part, GE has tried to reduce its reliance on its riskier financial businesses and make further investments in its other segments. In aviation, the company made a large deal in late 2012 with the $4.3 billion purchase of the aviation propulsion components and systems business of Italy's Avio S.p.A. The move expanded GE's activities in the appealing jet propulsion segment and strengthens its global supply chain.
In 2013 GE acquired Lufkin Industries, which provides oil and gas equipment including pumping units and automation equipment, for $3.3 billion. The company also bought Italy-based industrial manufacturer Avio's aviation business, which it renamed Avio Aero. The deal boosted activities in mechanical transmission systems, low-pressure turbines, automation systems, and combustion technology. The following year, GE acquired the reciprocating compression division of Cameron, further expanding its presence in the oil and gas industry.
The company plans to buy the power assets of France's Alstom for $16.9 billion. Alstom This deal, the biggest acquisition in GE's history to date, will expand GE's global base of power-generating turbines. It will also provide the company with access to expected growth in emerging markets.
GE Capital acquired MetLife's banking unit in 2013, adding some $6.4 billion in deposits and an established online banking platform.