Most of the attention was on the lending unit as General Electric reported its Q1 results, with overall earnings for the company down 40% to $2.8 billion – although that still beat Wall Street expectations. NBC Universal’s revenues declined only2% to $3.52 billion, but profits were down 45% to $391 million.
Continued weakness at the local television O&O group was the biggest drag on NBCU. Don’t look for that to change soon. “We’re going to continue to see pressure on the local stations in advertising and we are going to see continued pressure from the economy,” GE CFO Keith Sherin told Wall Street analysts.
The NBC Network did get a Q1 boost from having the Super Bowl this year, but that also carried higher programming costs. Expense comparisons should improve by Q3, since 2008 included the Beijing Summer Olympics.
The cable networks side of NBCU was stronger, with GE noting that the USA Network is cable’s #1 network. Ratings were up 15% for USA, 41% for Bravo and Oxygen over 100% in the last sweep.
Among other divisions of GE, the gainer was Energy Infrastructure, with revenues up 7% and profits 19%. Technology Infrastructure saw flat revenues, but a 6% gain in profits. Meanwhile, Capital Finance revenues fell 23% and profits dropped 58%. Consumer & Industrial saw revenues decline 22% and profits fell 75%.