Peacock powered

NBC's '99 earnings contribute to GE profit increase

NBC parent General Electric said Thursday that its total profits increased by 15% last year to $9.3 billion, with the Peacock net pulling its weight, posting a 17% earnings increase and a 10% boost in revenue for 1999.

GE’s overall revenue rose 11% to $116 billion.

The giant conglom said NBC benefited from a strong advertising climate as well as the launch of new shows including “West Wing” and “Law and Order SVU.” It said biz-news cable net CNBC turned in a strong fourth-quarter performance with CNBC Business Day exceeding CNN in viewership during November and December. Sports programming was strengthened by securing broadcast rights for NASCAR and horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Strong year-end perf

For all of 1999, NBC earned $1.6 billion on revenue of $5.8 billion. In the fourth quarter alone, NBC’s earnings rose 16% from the year-earlier period to $433 million, while revenue soared 31% to $1.8 billion.

In recent months, NBC also combined a number of Internet assets to put together a new company called XOOM.com and bought a big chunk of TV broadcaster Paxson.

Small portion

The numbers however, reinforce just how small a piece NBC is of GE in terms of revenue. Some Wall Streeters and industry insiders continue to believe that GE, whose businesses run the gamut from locomotive maintenance to aircraft engines to financial services, will eventually sell the unit to another media company.

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