General Electric topped Wall Street expectations for the fourth quarter and reaffirmed its target for 2016, but shares fell in Friday trading as the company's industrial revenue declined.

The industrial conglomerate on Friday reported earnings of 52 cents per share, or $6.28 billion US in net income attributable to common shareholders, a 22 per cent increase over the same quarter last year.

Excluding the financial operations it has sold or will sell, it had $33.9 billion in revenue.

Wall Street had been looking for per-share earnings of 49 cents and revenue of $35.91 billion, according to a survey by FactSet.

Focus on industrial segment

Revenue from the company's industrial segment slipped  one per cent to $31.4 billion. General Electric has refocused on its industrial roots, making massive turbines and other complicated equipment, while selling off its operations in its financial wing as well as its appliance division.

The fall in industrial earnings affected the stock price Friday, with shares falling 79 cents to $27.80.

GE's stock had climbed 23 per cent last year to close out 2015 at $31.15 before sliding along with the broader market so far this year.

As U.S. corporate earnings come in, there are fears that the strong U.S. dollar will eat into profits, but GE seems to have proven otherwise.

GE recently sold its appliance unit to China's Haier Group for $5.4 billion. It booked an additional $175 million in profits this quarter on a breakup fee after its attempt to sell the unit to Electrolux in Sweden fell through.

Slow-growth environment

Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said in a printed statement from the company that GE "executed well in a slow-growth environment."

He pointed out that orders in the fourth quarter grew 1 per cent, not counting acquisition gains, and GE's backlog grew to $315 billion after an $11-billion deal in November to acquire the power and transmission division of French manufacturer Alstom.

"We believe in the strength of our business model and that there is enough growth out there to deliver in 2016," Immelt said.

Revenue from GE's energy management operating segment jumped 20 per cent to $2.38 billion in the quarter. But the conglomerate's oil and gas operating segment dropped 16 per cent to $4.36 billion and was down 14 percent for the year.

The company built up its oil and gas drilling services operations in recent years through acquisitions, and investors applauded the moves when oil prices and consumption were rising. But an extended plunge has hurt the business and forced drillers to cut back on new exploration.

Oil exposure

U.S. crude is trading for around $30 per barrel Friday. That's half the price that a barrel fetched in June and a third of what it cost in the previous summer.

General Electric Co. reaffirmed on Friday its goal for 2016 operating earnings of $1.45 to $1.55 per share.

Analysts expect earnings of $1.51 per share from the Fairfield, Connecticut, company.

GE announced earlier this month that is was moving its headquarters from Connecticut, where it has been for four decades, to Boston.

The move is expected to occur in stages that start this summer. It will be completed in 2018.

Shares of GE fell 20 cents to $28.39 more than an hour before markets opened Friday.