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GE expects earnings growth in 2006, '07

December 13, 2006|From the Associated Press

General Electric Co. reaffirmed Tuesday that it expected earnings to increase 15% to 16% in 2006, and said it expected double-digit earnings growth for 2007.

The Fairfield, Conn.-based industrial, financial services and media conglomerate said it expected this year's fourth-quarter earnings to increase 13% to 16%, or 62 to 64 cents a share. It said earnings for all of 2006 would be $1.97 to $1.99 a share.

Previously, GE had predicted earnings of $1.94 to $2.02 this year. Analysts expect earnings of $1.99.

The company forecast that earnings would increase in 2007 by 10% to 13%, or $2.17 to $2.23 a share.

GE's top executive predicted higher earnings next year from its NBC Universal unit, fueled in part by an improved prime-time lineup and solid performances from CNBC and MSNBC.

Earnings for NBC, which represents about 10% of GE's earnings, have fallen 4% in 2006 but are expected to increase 5% in 2007, GE Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said during the company's annual outlook meeting in New York.

"We're not done yet," Immelt said. "We've got more work to do, but I like the progress the team has done."

GE has been focused on boosting NBC's prime-time ratings since popular shows such as "Friends" and "Frasier" ended their long runs. Immelt said he was pleased with improvements to the lineup and called its freshman drama "Heroes" the biggest hit of the year.

NBC finished second behind CBS in the November sweeps and was second in last week's Nielsen ratings with 10.2 million viewers. The network's Sunday night football telecast was the week's No. 2 show, with Monday's "Deal or No Deal" at No. 3 and "Heroes" at No. 6.

GE shares rose 42 cents to $35.64.

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