Renewables boost GE’s profits

Gains in the renewable energy sector and deals in exploration and production helped boost fourth-quarter profit, General Electric said Friday.

GE said its total earnings during the fourth quarter was $3.67 billion, vs. $6.28 billion reported during the same period last year. Revenue slipped to $33.1 billion from $33.89 billion in the year-earlier fourth quarter.

By sector, the company’s renewable energy sector saw total revenues increase 29%, to $2.5 billion, UPI reported.

GE announced at least $1.6 billion in acquisitions of wind power rivals and realized billions of dollars more in onshore wind orders in the U.S. alone, Kallanish Energy learns.

Outside North America, the company signed a deal to collaborate with Italian energy company Eni on a number of projects tied to low-carbon power options, such as solar power and wind. GE said there’s $25 million committed to tidal power in the UK.

Once again, GE’s biggest problem is oil. The company’s oil-and-gas unit, which makes equipment for petroleum exploration and production, has been pummeled by the more-than-two-year slump in the price of crude, which prompted customers to reduce spending.

Oil-and-gas revenue in the fourth quarter fell 22% from a year earlier, and segment profit fell 43%. GE recorded $12.9 billion in sales in the oil-and-gas business last year, down from $16.5 billion in 2015 and $19.1 billion a year earlier.

GE remains committed to the oil business, and says it will be poised to profit from an eventual rebound; but, meanwhile, the company is restructuring and trying to limit the pain.

GE’s oil and gas business has built up its position through acquisitions so that it’s now one of the stronger divisions within the parent company.

Last year, the oil and gas division of GE acquired a 62.5% in the world’s third-largest oilfield services company: Baker Hughes.