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Earnings: GE Q3 Earnings Meet Lowered Expectations; NBCU Profit Up 10 Percent

Late last month, General Electric (NYSE: GE) chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt lowered the company’s Q3 guidance dramatically and today it met those expectations. We’ll see if the inoculation — and the subsequent infusion from Warren Buffett — helped when the market opens. In the meantime, a quick look at the results: Earnings from continuing operations dropped 12 percent to $4.5 billion from $5.1 billion on Q307, with a corresponding 10 percent decrease in earnings per share to 45 cents from 50 cents. (Including all operations, earning dropped 22 percent.) Revenues from continuing operations were $47.2 billion, up 11 percent over $42.5 billion in the same quarter last year. Growth in infrastructure and media were countered by a sharp decline in financial services.

Media division NBC Universal turned in revenues of $5.07 billion for the quarter, which included the Olympics, up 35 percent over $3.8 billion the previous year. NBCU turned a profit of $645 million, a 10 percent increase over $589 million in Q307. Its profit for the year to date, though, is up 4 percent. From Immelt’s statement: “NBC Universal grew segment profit 10%, its eighth straight quarter of growth. Cable and films had a solid quarter, and the success of the Beijing Olympics showed the value of the network model.”

Earnings release | Webcast (8:30 a.m. edt) Video | Audio

Earnings call: [David adds] The financial picture looks “tough and volatile,” said Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt at the start of the conference call, but “we still see pockets of strength, particularly in media.” Overall, Immelt sought to calm frayed nerves, saying GE was “well-positioned regardless of what economic environment GE finds itself in the future.” Some highlights from the call, with a focus on the media side, after the jump.

— This was the eighth consecutive quarter of growth for NBCU, and its growth is back up to double digits. That was thanks in large part to the over $1 billion in revenue from the Olympics, which Immelt said exceeded ratings expectations.

— As for CNBC, the business cable net is making the best out of the worst of times: the channel recorded its best performance ever in total viewers. Immelt: We may not like the message, but viewers are tuning in like never before.

–Looking ahead to Q4, Keith Sherin, GE’s vice chairman and CFO, said the growth outlook is confident with regard NBCU, though it does appear mixed with weakness in local balanced out by strength in cable.