NBCU Sees Profitable Q1

Apr 15, 2005  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal continued to post gains in the first quarter, driven by healthy advances at both the broadcast network and the cable networks.

The General Electric unit reported a first-quarter operating profit surge of 80 percent to $709 million from a year-earlier figure of $394 million, while revenue more than doubled to $3.6 billion from a year-earlier figure of $1.6 billion.

The 2004 figures do not include results from Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which NBC acquired in May 2004. Excluding the effect of the VUE assets, NBCU’s revenue would have advanced 5 percent, while operating profit would have risen 20 percent.

GE officials said all of NBCU’s television assets reported gains in the quarter, with the network posting a 6 percent increase in revenue and a 35 percent increase in operating profit. The company’s cable properties, which include USA, Sci Fi and Bravo, combined to generate an 8 percent rise in revenue and an 8 percent increase in operating profit. Television stations’ operating profit fell 15 percent.

GE officials acknowledged that its network ratings have lagged, but said it was encouraged by its midseason replacements. The company also warned investors to brace for similar challenges in the second quarter, thanks to the absence of “Friends” and “Frasier,” both of which ended their runs last year.

However, GE is still predicting that NBCU will post double-digit operating profit gains in the second quarter, within the range of 15 percent and 20 percent, while revenue is projected to jump more than 20 pecent.

NBCU’s results helped GE overall turn in a 25 percent rise in profit to more than $4 billion from a year-earlier figure of $3.2 billion, while revenue climbed 19 percent to $39.8 billion.