Quarterly Earnings Roundup: GE, Morgan Stanley, United Continental, New York Times

April 21, 2011 Updated: April 21, 2011

Manufacturing: General Electric Sales, Earnings Exceed View

The largest U.S. conglomerate, General Electric Co., announced on Wednesday that it earned 80 percent higher first-quarter profits than the same period last year, exceeding Wall Street expectations on profits and sales. The company also said that it would raise its quarterly dividend, by 1 cent to 15 cents per share. The dividend hike "reflects not only our continued strong cash generation and accelerated recovery at GE Capital, but also solid underlying performance in our industrial businesses,” said CEO Jeffrey Immelt in a statement. GE’s revenues were buoyed by strong demand for locomotive and aircraft engines, and solid results from GE Capital, its finance arm. GE Capital, which has posted weak earnings, saw its profits more than triple last quarter.

Financial Services: Morgan Stanley Earnings Drop

Investment bank Morgan Stanley & Co. on Thursday reported a 48 percent drop in profits, which were $736 million for the first quarter. The profits were 50 cents per share, which beat analyst expectations of 35 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters estimates. The bank also disclosed that it lost $655 million in a joint venture with Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., mainly on losses due to derivatives. Morgan Stanley’s earnings trends were in line with its peers—Goldman Sachs saw a 21 percent decline from first quarter of last year. The bank said that during the first quarter, it set aside $4.3 billion for employee compensation.

Transportation: United Continental Posts Q1 Loss

United Continental Holdings Inc., the newly created entity after the merger of United Airlines and Continental Airlines, said that it lost $213 million in the first quarter. The Chicago-based airline said that while fare hikes and fuller planes were positives for the company, that was more than offset by a skyrocketing fuel bill, which put a dent into its net income. United said that higher ticket prices drove its revenues higher, from $7.4 billion to $8.2 billion in the first quarter, but “rising fuel prices largely offset the improvement in revenue,” United said in a statement. First quarter fuel costs were $2.67 billion, a 26.5 percent rise. The higher fuel prices were helped by some hedging bets made by the company, of around $154 million.

Media: NY Times Co. Reports $5 Million Profit

The New York Times Co., publisher of its namesake newspaper, said that first-quarter profits fell to $5.4 million, from $12.8 million a year ago, while top-line revenues also fell to $566 million. Both metrics fell shy of Wall Street analyst expectations, as continued weakness in print circulation and advertising hurts the media company. Traditional print advertising fell 4.4 percent, the company said, but Internet advertising rose 4.5 percent. The company also said that it gained more than 100,000 new digital subscribers during the period.