General Electric (NYSE:GE) will release its third quarter results on Friday, October 19, 2012. Analysts are expecting the company to report a profit of 37 cents a share, up from 31 cents a year ago.

Earnings are perhaps the single most studied number in a company's financial statements because they show a company's profitability. SEE: Can Earnings Guidance Accurately Predict The Future?

What to Expect: The consensus estimate for General Electric's earnings is 37 cents per share, up 19.4% from a year ago when the company reported earnings of 31 cents per share.

The consensus estimate has risen over the past month, from 36 cents, but it is the same as it was 90 days ago. For the fiscal year, analysts are projecting earnings of $1.56 per share.

Revenue is expected to exceed last year's figure of $35.37 billion by 4.1% and come in at $36.81 billion for the quarter. Revenue for the fiscal year is expected to come in at $147.9 billion.

Company Performance: Revenue increased year-over-year in the second quarter after falling for the three previous quarters. In the most recent quarter, revenue increased 2.5% year-over-year, whereas it fell 8.5% in the first quarter, 5.7% in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal year and 1.5% in the third quarter of the last fiscal year.

GE's P/E ratio of 19.0 is above the industry average of 15.37. A company with a high P/E ratio will eventually have to live up to the high rating by substantially increasing its earnings, or the price will need to drop. A company's price/earnings ratio (P/E ratio) provides a measure of how expensive or cheap a stock is. High P/E stocks could be "growth" stocks, while low PE stocks may be "value" stocks. SEE: How To Use The P/E Ratio And PEG To Tell The Future Of A Stock

Over the past quarter, the stock price has increased from $19.84 on July 18, 2012 to $22.64. General Electric's best recent streak was when its price gained $1.64 per share between September 6, 2012 and October 4, 2012.

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Tickers in this Article: GE

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