General Electric earnings beat forecasts

General Electric posted first quarter earnings figures that beat analysts' estimates Friday and it says it expects to deliver double-digit growth in industrial and capital units for the full year.

Earnings per share at the America's largest conglomerate were 0.34 cents US, according to the company's statement, around 0.01 cents ahead of a Reuters poll of analysts who cover the stock. Earnings from continuing operations were 0.31 cents per share, the company said.

Net income for the quarter was tagged at £3.03bn, or 0.29 cents per share, compared to $3.43bn, or 31 cents per share, in the first quarter of 2011.

First quarter revenues were $35.2bn across all of its business units, slighty better than the $34.7bn forecast. Broken down by segment, sales in the Industrial business were 14 percent higher at $23.7bn while orders were 20 percent higher, at $23.1bn, than in the first quarter of 2011.

Earnings at GE Capital came in at $1.8bn, little changed from the same period last year.

GE Capital reported a tier 1 common equity ratio of 10.4 percent, according to the statement, and the company said it plans to return excess cash from the unit to shareholders over the course of the year, subject to approval from the US Federal Reserve. The unit also booked a $200m charge related to its exit from Ireland's mortgage market. It does not expect further charges related to the move.

GE shares were indicated down up around 1.4 percent in pre-market trading following the results. The stock has advanced around 6.9 percent so far this year.