General Electric third-quarter earnings increased 15 percent despite losses

General Electric Co., whose businesses range from building jet engines and power plants to making loans and operating the NBC television network, said Friday its third-quarter earnings increased 15 percent despite losses from hurricanes as all its major segments posted double-digit percentage profit growth. Its shares rose nearly 2 percent in early trading.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company said net income rose to $4.67 billion (Ђ3.9 billion), or 44 cents a share, for the three months ended Sept. 30 from $4.07 billion, or 38 cents per share, a year ago, the AP says.

Total revenue climbed 9 percent, to $41.9 billion (Ђ34.9 billion) in the latest quarter from $38.3 billion a year ago.

GE's earnings were in line with analysts' expectations for a profit of 44 cents a share, according to a Thomson Financial survey.

Its shares rose 64 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $34.44 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $32.65 to $37.75.

"Despite a volatile environment, our fundamentals remain very strong, as we achieved double-digit earnings growth across all six of our businesses," said Jeff Immelt, GE's chief executive.

Orders increased 11 percent, services sales increased 9 percent and the company had double-digit revenue growth from markets such as China and Europe. GE incurred $377 million (Ђ314 million) of hurricane-related reinsurance losses, but that was partially offset in the third quarter by a gain of about $250 million (Ђ208 million) from the sale of its insurance business.

By segment, profits jumped 56 percent, to $629 million (Ђ524 million) at GE's industrial business and 28 percent, to $1.45 billion (Ђ1.21 billion) at its commercial finance unit.

Earnings increased 17 percent, to $1.88 billion (Ђ1.57 billion) at GE's infrastructure business on orders for airline engines, rail and wind energy.

Profits rose 13 percent, to $603 million (Ђ502.5 million) at NBC Universal, but revenue dropped 26 percent, to $3 billion compared with a year ago when NBC broadcast the summer Olympics. GE said Universal Picture's "40-Year-Old Virgin" surpassed $100 million (Ђ83 million) in domestic box office receipts, but NBC has lost popular television shows in recent years such as "Friends."

Earnings rose 19 percent, to $810 million (Ђ675 million) at the consumer finance unit, which has been acquiring banks and credit cars businesses in fast growing emerging markets such as Turkey and India.

GE expects earnings for the year to be between $1.81 and $1.83 per share. The consensus of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial is for earnings of $1.82 for the year.


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