Jack Welch: We Bring Good Things To Investors

John F. Welch & Co. had a rare surprise for General Electric investors on Mar. 21: a nice little bump up in the company's target for first-quarter earnings. Shareholders went nuts, driving the stock up 7.5% and giving GE the kind of one-day lift that usually only tech stocks get. Why the hoopla?

First, GE almost never rejiggers profit targets, so any uptick is significant--even if only from 75 cents to 77 cents a share. Moreover, after a powwow with top management on Mar. 21, analysts said Welch's year-old efforts to drive GE's business onto the Internet are paying off. "A major part of the story is the company's very rapid adaptation of the new economy tools to extend its already considerable advantages," said Goldman Sachs analyst Martin A. Sankey.

Another key: Welch says GE is getting a big lift from the strength of the global economy. With orders up 20% this year, Sankey said that GE appears well-positioned to keep up the growth--even well after Welch's expected retirement in 2001.

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