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GE's stock price surged about 10% in morning trading Wednesday, as the Boston-based conglomerate beat analysts' expectations for the fourth quarter.
Optimistic investors drove up the value of a GE share to nearly $13, a level not seen since mid-2018.
The company's closely-watched aviation division was particularly strong in the final quarter of 2019, turning a profit of almost $2.1 billion — 19% more than in the fourth quarter of 2018. GE Aviation's $6.8 billion total profit in 2019 represented a 5% increase.
Those are reassuring figures, as GE absorbs a ripple from the prolonged grounding of Boeing's 737 Max, the jet model involved in high-profile, deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019. GE is a co-manufacturer of engines for the 737 Max. GE Aviation managed to post strong returns, despite the 737 Max being out of service.
"The fourth quarter marked a strong close to the year for GE," said Chief Executive Larry Culp. "We met or exceeded our full-year financial targets and are on a positive trajectory for 2020."
Still, GE may not yet be feeling the full impact of Boeing's mid-December decision to halt production of the 737 Max. As GE forecast continued growth, it cautioned investors that "this outlook is also dependent on the 737 Max's return to service, which GE is planning for in mid-2020, in line with Boeing."
GE's stock price remains far below the level to which investors were once accustomed. GE traded above $30 per share as recently as January 2017.
But the latest results are another degree of progress in the company's turnaround effort. GE's share price has roughly doubled since bottoming out at $6.45 in December 2018.
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