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NBC, GE Continue to See Profit Growth

Jan 19, 2004  •  Post A Comment

NBC continued its profit momentum, it reported last week, recording a 14 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit and a 21 percent rise for 2003, helping parent General Electric continue its revenue and profit growth trends for the quarter and year.
The No. 1 broadcast network posted a fourth-quarter profit of $536 million, up 14 percent from a year-earlier profit of $470 million, on a 7 percent increase in revenue for the period to $1.9 billion. For the year, the network’s profit surged to $2 billion from a year earlier level of $1.7 billion, while revenue slipped 4 percent to $6.9 billion.
GE officials attributed the network’s results to its continued reign as the No. 1 broadcast network in the adults 18 to 49 demo as well as ratings growth at the cable channel Bravo, which posted an 80 percent surge in prime-time ratings growth among adults 25 to 49 from a year ago. Meanwhile, Spanish-language network Telemundo has seen its ratings climb 33 percent among adults 18 to 49 in every daypart in the past 12 months.
The results helped the overall company post a 47 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenue to $4.6 billion, while revenue advanced 4 percent to nearly $37 billion. For the year, the Fairfield, Conn.-based conglomerate saw its profits rise 6 percent to $15 billion on a 1 percent increase in revenue to $134.2 billion.
GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said during a conference call with analysts that the company is still on track to complete its merger of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment by the middle of the year, but cautioned that things can be unpredictable, given the regulatory-review process.
Mr. Immelt added that he was confident about the network in 2004, saying that scatter pricing at NBC is “up slightly” in the 2004 first quarter and that the network will benefit from an expected increase in political advertising spending.
He also expressed optimism about the prospects for NBC News, which will see the departure of Tom Brokaw following the presidential election and the arrival of Brian Williams as Mr. Brokaw’s replacement. “This will be a great news cycle for NBC,” he said. “The assets are performing really well right now. CNBC has bounced back, and its profitability is extremely strong. This will be a good earnings year for the news business.”