GE Reports Earnings Plunge

FAIRFIELD, CONN.: Shares of General Electric (NYSE: GE) slid 10 percent on Friday when the parent company of NBC Universal announced a 43 percent drop in earnings. The Fairfield, Conn., missile-making, television, light-bulb, finance company reported 4Q08 earnings of $3.9 billion on revenues of $46 billion, compared to $6.8 billion on nearly $49 billion for the final quarter of 2007. The bulk of the drag came from the Capital Finance division, where profit plunged 67 percent.

Profits at NBC Universal slipped by 6 percent in 4Q, “as strong cable earnings were offset by declines in the local stations,” GE’s earnings release stated. NBCU posted $865 million net earnings on revenues of $4.4 billion for the quarter, compared to $923 million on revenues of nearly $4.6 billion last year. Revenues of the combined cable networks--MSNBC, USA, CNBS, Sci Fi and Bravo--increased 11 percent for the quarter, while local TV station revenue slipped 25 percent.

NBCU made a respectable showing for the full year, posting a profit of more than $3.13 billion on revenues of nearly $17 billion, compared to nearly $3.11 billion on revenues of $15.4 billion in 2007. Full-year profits (excluding a write-off for discontinued operations) for GE came in at more than $18 billion on revenues of $46.3 billion, compared to $22.5 billion on revenues of $42.8 billion the previous year.

Shares of GE fell from nearly $13.50 last Thursday to close the week’s trading at just above $12.