By Scott Malone
REUTERS - General Electric Co on Friday reported a 2.5 percent rise in quarterly profit from continuing operations, just beating estimates, as solid demand in the United States for equipment used in energy production offset the effects of a weakening European economy.
The largest U.S. conglomerate said second-quarter net earnings attributable to common shareholders -- which accounted for discontinued operations -- fell 15.8 percent to $3.11 billion, or 29 cents per share, from $3.69 billion, or 35 cents per share, a year earlier.
Factoring out one-time items including charges related to its former U.S. subprime mortgage business and a Japanese consumer finance arm, profit came to 38 cents per share, above the analysts' average estimate of 37 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 2.5 percent to $36.5 billion from $35.62 billion, but was shy of Wall Street's expectation of $36.8 billion.
Chief Executive Jeff Immelt held steady the company's 2012 profit outlook, which calls for double-digit growth.
"Our industrial outlook remains positive," Immelt said in a statement.
The note of confidence was key for investors, particularly after two days of stronger-than-expected earnings from other industrial companies, including Textron Inc and Honeywell International Inc .
"This is a very good release," said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer at Harbor Advisory Corp in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. "GE had the perfect opportunity to bring expectations down and blame it on Europe and that would have been the tell-tale move that would have said, 'OK, GE is beginning to suffer here in this environment.' And they didn't do that."
GE shares have risen about 10.8 percent so far this year, outpacing the 5.7 percent gain in the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI>, of which the stock is the sole remaining original compo-nent.
(Reporting By Scott Malone in Boston; editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jeffrey Benkoe)