GE Sees Latin America Sales Climbing 25%, Outpacing China

General Electric Co. projects revenue in regions such as Latin America will rise as much as 25 percent a year through 2016, outpacing growth of as much as 15 percent in Asian countries including China.

Faster-growing, resource-rich countries from Australia to Peru and Mozambique may account for 50 percent of GE’s industrial revenues by 2020, up from 37 percent of last year’s approximately $94 billion of sales, the company said today in a meeting with investors in Rio de Janeiro.

Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt has retooled the company in the past decade to focus on manufacturing businesses led by energy, tapping rapid growth from new roads, airports and hospitals in markets from China to Brazil. The outlook for international growth suggests GE will meet its forecast for industrial revenue growth this year.

“We’ve been building this company for what the world needs today and tomorrow,” said Vice Chairman John Rice, who leads the company’s global growth and operations. “You can debate a quarter, a business, a country, but this stuff has to happen and we’re going to be right in the middle of it.”

GE climbed 1.9 percent to $18.77 in New York, snapping three straight days of declines. A gain this year of 4.8 percent this year still trails an increase of 7.6 percent by the Standard & Poor’s 500.

International Expansion

The international growth means GE will achieve its forecast for 5 percent to 10 percent expansion in industrial revenue minus the effect of acquisitions, according to C. Stephen Tusa, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst who attended the conference. Sales in GE’s industrial businesses may climb about 7 percent even if developed economies don’t contribute any growth, he wrote in a note to clients.

GE is focusing on international markets, with plans to boost sales outside the U.S. to 65 percent of total industrial revenue by 2020 from 59 percent now, the company said in a presentation on its website. The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth of 5.4 percent in developing countries this year, compared with 1.2 percent in advanced economies.

GE sees $50 billion in opportunities in Latin America over time in businesses from oil and gas to mining, biofuels and wind energy, Reinaldo Garcia, head of GE’s operations in Latin America, said at today’s meeting.

Industrial revenue excluding NBC Universal climbed to $6.6 billion in Latin America from $3.7 billion in 2006, Garcia said. The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company sold a majority stake in NBC to cable provider Comcast Corp. last year.

China Growth

GE can grow faster in countries including Brazil, Mexico and Peru than in China because revenues in Latin America are lower, Rice told reporters at the meeting. China is “still a very attractive market for us,” he said.

China cut its 2012 economic growth target to 7.5 percent on March 5, down from 8 percent over the past seven years, as the European debt crisis and sluggish U.S. recovery crimp demand for goods from the world’s largest exporter.

“That’s still very strong growth,” said Mark Hutchinson, CEO of GE’s China operations. The country’s leaders will avoid a “hard landing,” he said.

GE still predicts operating earnings growth of 10 percent or more from its industrial and financial businesses, Rice said. Profit margins will improve 0.5 percentage point in 2012, he said.

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