SOURCE: The Bedford Report

The Bedford Report

March 22, 2011 07:35 ET

GE and 3M Showing Improved Fundamentals -- Dividends Spike

The Bedford Report Provides Analyst Research on General Electric and 3M

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - March 22, 2011) - With the markets showing signs of volatility this month, investors are once again looking for safe havens. Dividend paying stocks traditionally get plenty of attention during hectic times in the market believing in the company's security and real earnings power. Conglomerates are known for paying steady dividends, however during the financial meltdown most had substantially reduced or altogether cut their dividend payments. While many conglomerates have started boosting dividend payments, others do not appear ready to increase shareholder return. The Bedford Report examines the outlook for companies in the Conglomerates Industry and provides research reports on General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) and 3M Co. (NYSE: MMM). Access to the full company reports can be found at:

GE pays an annual dividend of 56 cents for a yield of about 2.8 percent. Although the dividend is not even close to pre-recession levels, GE has boosted its dividend in two consecutive quarters. The company's 2009 dividend cut was the company's first in more than 70 years, with CEO Jeffrey Immelt calling it "the toughest decision (he) ever had to make as CEO." GE posted fourth-quarter earnings of $3.9 billion, or 36 cents a share, a 33 percent year-on-year improvement. While executives said little about dividends during the earnings call, GE said its core businesses were improving and that it is continuing to show gains in its financial operations.

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Last month 3M hiked its dividend 5 percent, and now the company pays an annual dividend of $2.20 for a yield of approximately 2.4 percent. The company's board also authorized the repurchase of up to $7 billion of outstanding common shares, replacing its existing share repurchase program.

3M reported that its fourth quarter GAAP net income declined to $928 million, or $1.28 a share, from $935 million, or $1.30, in the year-ago period. The company increased its 2011 earnings estimate to a range of $5.95 to $6.20 per share compared to a prior range of $5.90 to $6.10.

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