Other items: Divisions' strength lifts quarterly profit for United Technologies; Airline's loss blamed on fuel costs, fares; Loan portfolios cited in decline ...

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General Electric’s profit jumped 18 percent in the fourth quarter, saying acquisitions and a strong global economy are ushering in a return to double-digit earnings growth at the nation’s largest company.

The industrial, financial and media conglomerate said yesterday it earned $5.37 billion, or 51 cents per share, in the October-December period, up from $4.56 billion, or 45 cents a share, a year ago.

The results beat analysts’ consensus estimate of 50 cents per share.

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Revenue in the fourth quarter was $43.7 billion, up 18 percent from $37 billion in the same period a year ago.

GE shares fell 24 cents to close at $35.13 yesterday, approaching its 52-week high of $37.75 reached in December.

GE reaffirmed its forecast that profits would grow 12 percent to 17 percent this year, while per-share earnings would grow 10 percent to 15 percent. That growth should be sustained into 2006, GE Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt said.

For the year, GE reported earnings of $16.6 billion, or $1.59 per share, on revenue of $152.4 billion. That compared with earnings of $15 billion, or $1.49 per share, on revenue of $134.1 billion a year ago.

United Technologies

Divisions’ strength lifts quarterly profit

The industrial conglomerate United Technologies reported an 11 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit yesterday, boosted by strong sales at its Otis elevator and Carrier air-conditioning divisions and market-share gains.

The company earned $650 million, or $1.29 a share, for the October-December period, compared with $588 million, or $1.16 a share in the year-ago period.

The results beat the $1.27 per share estimated by analysts.

Revenue rose 15 percent, to $9.8 billion from $8.58 billion a year earlier.

The company’s shares rose 30 cents to close at $100.08 yesterday.

For the year, the company earned $2.78 billion, or $5.52 per share, compared with $2.36 billion, or $4.69 per share, for the previous year. Revenues were $37.4 billion, compared with $31 billion in the year-ago period.

America West Airlines

Airline’s loss blamed on fuel costs, fares

Burdened by high fuel costs and too many cheap fares in the market, the parent company of America West Airlines yesterday reported a fourth-quarter net loss of $49.7 million.

The loss amounted to $1.38 per share for the quarter that ended Dec. 31. By comparison, the company earned $6.8 million, or 13 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

The quarterly loss was the second straight for America West, bringing the company’s annual loss to $89.9 million, or $2.50 per share. The company anticipates another loss in the first quarter, officials said.

Analysts expected the company would lose $1.50 per share for the fourth quarter and $2.51 per share for the year.

Shares of America West fell 38 cents, or 8.1 percent, to close at $4.30 yesterday.

America West’s losses bring the total fourth quarter losses of six large U.S. carriers to $3.2 billion, the bulk of that from Delta Air Lines’ $2.2 billion loss, reported Thursday.

United Airlines, US Airways and Alaska Air Group have yet to report fourth-quarter results. All are expected to report losses, blaming high fuel prices, low fares and hefty charges.


Loan portfolios cited in decline

Banking company KeyCorp reported a 9 percent decline in fourth-quarter profit yesterday, reflecting a $46 million cost to account for the sale of a home-equity loan portfolio and plans to sell a car-loan portfolio.

KeyCorp earned $213 million, or 51 cents per share, in the fourth quarter, down from profit of $234 million, or 55 cents per share, in the same a quarter in 2003.

Excluding one-time items, KeyCorp earnings were $290 million, or 70 cents per share. Analysts had estimated earnings of 62 cents per share.

KeyCorp shares rose 83 cents, or 2.6 percent, to close at $32.53 yesterday.

For the year, KeyCorp earned $954 million, or $2.30 per share, compared with 2003 earnings of $903 million, or $2.12 per share.

Interest income for the quarter rose from $680 million to $708 million.

KeyCorp has assets of about $91 billion and banking operations coast-to-coast.

Compiled from The Associated Press