A&E Stake Leads NBCU's 13% Profit Increase in Q3

Overall, GE’s profit is off 30 percent year to date, 45 percent in third quarter.

NBC Universal’s profit increased 13 percent to $732 million during the third quarter, the company said in an earnings release today, a bright spot in what’s been an otherwise dismal year for the GE-owned unit.

However, the profit increase was due mostly to the company’s increased stake in A&E.

Year to date, NBCU’s profits – at $1.66 billion — are down 27 percent. NBCU’s 2009 revenues – $11.17 billion, are down 11 percent. Its third quarter revenues were $4.08 billion, down 20 percent during the same quarter in 2008.

The company said the shortfall was due, in part, to not having the presidential election and Beijing Olympics to sell against.

Overall, GE’s profit is off 30 percent this year and 45 percent in the third quarter, with the company missing investor forecasts.

During a conference call to discuss earnings, GE chairman Keith Sherin said the ad market for NBCU is showing signs of life, and that the company has been pleased with its late night lineup.

GE executives did not discuss specifics of Comcast buying NBCU, as TheWrap first reported, but CEO Jeffrey Immelt hinted at such an outcome.

"This year we wanted to be ready for several scenarios,” Immelt said. “We are ready for an IPO or a strategic partnership like the one we have with Vivendi. We don't have a specific announcement. We plan to run NBC Universal over the long term or partner if that accelerates the growth of the franchise."