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Immelt Avoids Dirty Work in GE Swan Song

And so an era ends.

General Electric Co. on Friday reported its last batch of quarterly results before CEO Jeff Immelt steps down, and it appears he will be going out without a disaster, if not with a bang. Investor anxiety had been mounting as Immelt's earlier-than-expected retirement announcement sparked fears of looming guidance cuts, an earnings reset or even a dividend cut. The $232 billion maker of jet engines and MRI machines had no nasty surprises of that caliber to deliver -- but it wasn't reassuring either.

GE reported better second-quarter adjusted earnings per share than analysts had expected, in its second straight positive surprise of the year. Analysts noted that much of that beat came from a lower tax rate and a bigger-than-expected contribution from the remaining GE Capital assets, as opposed to a true operational improvement. That said, a 2 percent gain in organic industrial sales despite a slow-growth economic backdrop was encouraging, and should put the company well on its way to meeting an aggressive overall target for the year of 3 percent to 5 percent.

GE maintained its profit outlook for this year, but indicated it would come in at the lower end of the $1.60 to $1.70 range. It said nothing in its press release and slide presentation about its much-doubted $2 goal for 2018 EPS. (Immelt in May acknowledged...