GE’s Q4 is out, and the NBC U unit is right where CEO Jeff Immelt said it would be a month ago: Profits up 10%. In December, Immelt described the unit as “underperforming” but in the earnings release this morning he’s more upbeat:
“NBC Universal delivered 10% segment profit growth in the quarter for its fifth straight quarter of profit growth,” Immelt said. “Film had its best year ever, with strong global growth. Entertainment and Information Cable had record ratings and solid earnings growth. The network continues to improve its programming and cost position.”
The numbers: Q4 revenues climbed from $4.2 billion to $4.5 billion y/y; for the year revenue dropped 5%, to $15.4 billion. Profits: Up from $841 million to $923 million for the quarter, and up 6%, from $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion for the year.GE says the unit will post 10% revenue growth next quarter and profit growth of 5% to 10%.
Conference call update: CFO says strike has had “no noticeable impact” on NBC financials. Ratings are still challenged, but programming is a lot cheaper.
Then again, the strike really shouldn’t have had much impact on NBC during the last quarter – the only new programming it lost was late night shows from Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. Immelt allows that NBC may see “minimal” impact in Q1, but insists that its TV operations will be fine, strike or no strike. Performance of reality shows (“Deal or No Deal”, “American Gladiators”, “The Apprentice”) has “pleasantly surprised”, and while they hopes the strike finishes soon, NBC will be fine if it doesn’t. “We’re preparing for the worst, and hopefully it will be better than that.”
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