SOURCE: The Bedford Report

The Bedford Report

May 03, 2011 08:16 ET

General Electric and 3M Seek to Return Dividends to Pre-Recession Levels

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

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - May 3, 2011) - With the markets showing continued signs of volatility, investors are looking for safe havens. Dividend paying stocks traditionally get attention during hectic times in the market as investors are more likely to believe in the company's security and real earnings power. During the financial meltdown, several conglomerates were forced to cut their hefty dividend payments, however after posting improved profits in recent quarters, many industry heavyweights have begun returning more value to shareholders. 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:

Executives at General Electric said the company's profit growth should accelerate in the second half of this year and next as the company emerges from recession with a simpler group of businesses. With the company's bottom line improving, GE has now boosted its dividend in three consecutive quarters. The company's Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt called the latest dividend increase a show of confidence in GE's outlook but said the company aims to eventually return to its pre-recession tradition of predictable, annual increases. The company's 2009 dividend cut was the company's first in more than seventy years, Immelt calling it "the toughest decision (he) ever had to make as CEO."

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GE recently reported a first-quarter profit of $3.43 billion, or 31 cents a share, up from $1.95 billion, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 6.2% to $38.45 billion.

Last week 3M reported a 16 percent year-on-year increase in first quarter profit and raised its earnings forecast for the full year as sales skyrocketed in emerging markets such as China and Brazil. 3M projected that its earnings for the full year will be $6.05 to $6.25 a share. That's up from the previous forecast of $5.95 to $6.20.

Presently 3M pays an annual dividend of $2.20 for a yield of around 2.3 percent.

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