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GE Profit Up; Shows Next-Gen Majaps At IBS

GE turned heads at this month’s International Builders’ Show (IBS), held here at the Orange County Convention Center, and not just because of its new walk-in wine vault or Monogram double wall ovens.

The company also offered its take on the “Kitchen of the Future,” circa 2035, courtesy of the Industrial Design Operation of GE’s consumer and industrial group, which produces white goods and lightbulbs. Their sleek, efficient and minimalist concept kitchen was presented as an interconnected suite of products with interactive controls, featuring a full-width display for recipes and entertainment with touch sensors across the entire surface, and organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology as the primary lighting source.

Features of the futuristic majaps included:

Refrigerator: A sensor knows what has been placed in the unit, and updates an electronic list of all contents and automatically adjusts temperature and humidity for optimal food preservation. Advanced aero-gel and vacuum panel insulation afford thinner walls creating more interior room.

Multi-Technology Oven: Microwave, thermal and convection energies combine to cook food better and faster. A thermo-scan shows which areas of food are at proper temperature. Waste heat is used to heat water for washing dishes.

Dishwasher: Detergent is loaded in bulk once per year, and dispensed via algorithms to minimize the cleaning agents in wastewater. Gray water created though dish cleaning is reprocessed for use in other areas of the home and garden.

“This design exercise affords the perfect opportunity to showcase the innovative thinking of GE’s industrial designers and engineers. These are the men and women who will conceptualize tomorrow’s kitchen,” said Paul Klein, general manager of brand and advertising for GE’s consumer and industrial group. (Coverage of IBS will continue in the next issue.)

Separately, the company reported that fourth-quarter majap revenue edged up 1 percent, with the consumer and industrial segment coming in at $8.5 billion, compared with $8.4 billion in the last three months of 2004.

Profit in the industrial segment enjoyed a 25 percent increase over the same period a year earlier, rising to $769 million from $613 million.

Among the majap business accomplishments in the fourth quarter, said GE, was the awarding of the Good Housekeeping “Good Buy” and Popular Science “Best of What’s New” citations in the home tech category for the company’s outstanding performance and innovative features for its Profile dishwasher with SmartDispense technology.

For the 12 months, revenue in the majaps segment rose 6 percent, hitting $32.6 billion, up from a year-ago $30.7 billion. Segment profit jumped 40 percent for the 12 months, reaching $2.6 billion, compared with a year-earlier $1.8 billion.

Consolidated fourth-quarter revenue at GE rose 3 percent to $40.7 billion, up $39.7 billion. With discontinued operations resulting in a fourth-quarter net loss of $2.7 billion, net earnings for the period were $3.1 billion, off 46 percent from the $5.6 billion recorded in the last three months of 2004.

Consolidated 12-month revenue increased 11 percent at GE, reaching $149.7 billion, up from $134.5 billion year-over-year. For the year, net loss from discontinued operations was $1.9 billion. Accordingly, consolidated net earnings were down 3 percent to $16.4 billion, from $16.8 billion a year earlier.

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