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Reduced NBCUniversal Stake Affects General Electric's Fourth-Quarter Financials

Jeffrey Immelt
Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Comcast will report the entertainment company's quarterly results in the coming weeks.

NEW YORK - General Electric said on Friday that its fourth-quarter revenue was down 8 percent compared to the same period a year ago at $38 billion.

When excluding NBCUniversal revenue that GE accounted for in the latest quarter and year-ago period, the industrial conglomerate reported a 4 percent year-over-year improvement. GE had in Jan. 2011 cut its stake in the entertainment company from 80 percent to 49 percent in a deal with cable giant Comcast.

In the final quarter of 2010, GE, led by chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, had consolidated NBCUniversal's full $4.8 billion in revenue. In the last quarter of 2011, however, it cited only $212 million in NBCUniversal-related revenue that it accounted for.

Full-year 2011 revenue at GE rose 7 percent when excluding the NBCUniversal impact to $147.3 billion. Including NBCUniversal-related revenue, the company posted a decline of 2 percent. GE's full-year NBCUniversal-related revenue amounted to $5.7 billion in 2011, compared with $16.9 billion in 2010.

As GE has done since the Comcast deal last January, it didn't detail NBCUniversal's actual results for the latest quarter or year, which Comcast will do in its upcoming earnings report. Instead, GE once again simply mentioned some figures about how it is accounting for the entertainment company's financials. GE executives have previously said that the information reported in its quarterly results doesn’t allow direct conclusions about NBCUniversal’s financial performance.

"Consolidated revenues include revenues from NBCU operations prior to this transfer as well as the transaction related gain," GE said in a note to its earnings report on Friday. "We have provided the percentage of revenue growth excluding the impact of NBCU, as the volatility related to NBCU revenues can obscure underlying trends."

In terms of the bottom line, GE reported "corporate items and eliminations" that together amounted to a loss of $1.35 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a year-ago loss of $1.41 billion. That figure includes contributions from NBCUni results, but GE didn't break those out.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai