GE Reports $3.6 Bil Q1 Gain After Reducing NBCUni Stake

 Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

NEW YORK – General Electric on Thursday said its first-quarter financials got a boost from the sale of part of its stake in NBCUniversal, which added 4 cents to earnings per share for the quarter.

Since a deal with cable giant Comcast that closed in late January, the industrial giant has owned a 49 percent stake in the entertainment company, down from 80 percent previously.

GE, led by chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, didn’t provide details on the financial performance of the entertainment company in the first quarter beyond saying its results for the period included a $93 million pre-tax operating profit from NBCUniversal.

Due to the closing of the NBCUniversal-Comcast deal in the middle of the quarter, GE owned 80 percent of the entertainment firm in January and then 49 percent in February and March. That makes it difficult to draw conclusions about the results for NBCUniversal itself.

It will be up to new majority owner Comcast to report specifics on NBCUniversal’s revenue and profit in early May.

What GE management did say in an earnings conference call on Thursday though was that the completion of the NBCUniversal deal meant a 4 cents earnings per share benefit for GE. A $3.6 billion pre-tax gain from the deal was partially offset by a $3.2 billion tax charge, it said.

For the full year 2011, GE said the lower NBCU stake will have a dilutive effect on its operating earnings, but positive trends in its GE Capital business will more than offset that. 

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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