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General Electric 3Q earnings drop

NBC Universal profit increases 10%

General Electric posted a third-quarter profit dip Friday that matched Wall Street expectations, with NBC Universal one of the conglom’s lone bright spots.

Earnings came in at $4.31 billion, down from $5.56 billion a year ago. Profit from continuing operations fell 12%. Revenue rose 11.1% to $47.23 billion.

GE Capital, one of the nation’s most exposed financial entities during the current economic crisis, saw profit decline 33%. Overall, though, analysts and investors were encouraged that the damage wasn’t far worse.

The conglom’s stock was down fractionally to $18.87 in midday trading, though Friday morning it dipped even further, to an 11-year low, as the Dow plunged 700 points.

In a note to NBC U employees, topper Jeff Zucker noted the unit’s operating profit rose 10% to $729 million compared with the year-ago period. It was the eighth straight quarter of gains.

The Olympics, “Saturday Night Live” and summer smash “Mamma Mia,” now the fourth-biggest global grosser in Universal’s fabled history, all fueled growth. Revenue for the quarter surged 35% to $5.1 billion.

“That we did this with the severe economic pressures that are clearly now all around us speaks volumes about the character and quality of our company and its people,” Zucker wrote.

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