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GE posts lower profit

Boston, April 12 (Reuters): General Electric Co. said on Friday that first-quarter profit fell nearly 9 per cent as gas turbine sales dropped sharply and plastics earnings were more than halved.

GE said it expects second-quarter profit to decline as much as 15 per cent. That means the conglomerate needs a big rebound in the second half of the year to meet 2003 profit goals.

Analysts said many investors have written off 2003 as a transition year as GE moves to unload some assets.

Easier comparisons at GE's reinsurance unit, which took a big charge in the fourth quarter, will help the company post earnings growth in the second half of 2003.

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