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Top brass singles wind out for praise

GE's third quarter results show a robust energy division reporting revenues up 37%, profit up 28%, and the wind turbine sector leading the charge. Pricing on GE's wind turbines, up 11% from last year (its gas turbine prices are down 2%), played a key role in overall energy segment growth, prompting company management to single out wind for special mention from among the company's many businesses.

Keith Sherin, the company's chief financial officer, said wind shipments were up over three times compared with the same period last year. "That business is doing really well. The op profit growth was driven by improvements in wind and the growth in energy services," said Sherin. He added that turbine unit sales are expected to level off in the next quarter at just over 700 units, roughly the same as last year's fourth quarter.

Company CEO Jeff Immelt said a number of factors are increasing profit and confidence in the wind business. "We've done a great job improving the product that we got when we bought this business several years ago. There is a huge demand globally from both regulatory and from customers who want to have more renewable energy." In part, this allows the company to require larger down payments on turbine orders which "helps us defray the cost of the supply chain build and it is just a positive dynamic right now around the industry for us," Immelt said.

GE does not specify results for individual business segments, but overall energy division revenues in the third quarter were $5055 million, up from $3681 million in 2005. For the year to date, energy revenues are $13.3 billion, up from $11.5 billion. Profit in the third quarter is $747 million, up from $584 million last year and profit for the year is up 5% at $1872 million, compared to $1786 million in 2005.

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