General Electric’s (GE) ever-larger bet on energy, particularly the oil and natural gas equipment sector, appears to be paying off as the industrial conglomerate on Friday reported stronger-than-expected profits for 4Q2012.

Soaring earnings are a continuation of GE’s growing energy emphasis the past two years, dating back to first quarter results in 2011 (see Daily GPI, April 25, 2011). At the time, CEO Jeffrey Immelt and CFO Keith Sherin talked bullishly about GE’s various energy plays, particularly global turbine orders, and the hype continues.

GE’s oil/gas and energy management businesses were among four of six infrastructure units that showed double-digit growth in equipment orders in the fourth quarter last year, Immelt reported Friday. While acknowledging “uncertainty” in U.S. and European markets, he said growth in China and various “resource-rich countries” is likely to continue.

Among the highlights last year that GE cited in its 4Q2012 announcement were $4.7 billion in earnings on $39.3 billion of quarterly revenues, the launching of a new power plant technology using advanced gas-fired turbines originally developed for supersonic jet engines, and new industrial Internet applications for the energy sector.

Previously, GE Energy CEO John Krenicki left no doubt that the company sees much upside to the natural gas boom in North America, noting in the fall of 2011 that success in the energy sector is driven through natural gas (see Daily GPI, Sept. 26, 2011).

“In an environment where public policy is paralyzed [regarding alternative energy sources], all roads lead to natural gas,” said Krenicki. In the past decade, GE has greatly broadened its energy plays, globalizing its gas turbine business, moving heavily into wind turbines, gas reciprocating engines and eventually the oil and gas services business and others, he said.

At the time Krenicki was predicting an expansion of GE’s gas engines business in natural gas compression that has continued into the start of 2013.

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